When we are feeding our kids, teeth are often the least of our worries. But hear us out – generally what is good for their bodies is also good for their teeth. The cavity-causing culprit is sugar, and sugar is added to nearly 70% of all foods sold in the grocery store. While it tastes great, whenever we enjoy any food or drink with sugar, the bacteria in our mouths also enjoy the snack. These bacteria – we like to call them sugar bugs – make themselves at home on your teeth, gums, and tongue, building making themselves at home in the form of plaque. After eating the sugar, bacteria make acid, which pulls minerals out of our teeth causing cavities.
If you don’t brush and floss the sugar bugs away each day, the bacteria continue to weaken teeth, eventually causing cavities. Once cavities get large or deep enough, they can cause pain and infection.
Even with good brushing and flossing, constant exposure to sugar, even just a little bit, will do a number on your teeth. The best oral health practice for all children – and adults – is to eliminate as much sugar as possible when you eat and drink.
Our number one suggestion - don’t bring food and drinks high in sugar in the house. Easier said than done, but eliminating the option entirely for both parents and kids will lead to infinitely better health and happiness!
Snacks That Keep Teeth Clean & Healthy
The good news is that you can control how much sugar you bring into the house, and there are plenty of snack and lunch options that are good to your teeth!
Crunchy, raw fruits and vegetables, such as apples and carrots, can help remove bacteria that live on the surface of teeth. Celery, pears, and cucumbers that have high water content also help clean teeth and promote overall health.
Lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, and white fish are a good source of protein, which helps strengthen tooth enamel.
Dairy products such as sugar-free yogurts and milks are excellent sources of calcium, which is crucial for building strong teeth.
Cheese is also an excellent snack and can actually help prevent cavities!
Drink Water, Not Juice. If there’s one change you can make, it’s to stop buying juices, sports drinks, and soft drinks for your family. Make it a habit to drink water instead of juice or sugary drinks. Don’t even bring juice into your home! Instead, use the money towards a different reward such as a family outing or activity.
Limit Snacking. This is a hard one! But establishing a routine that eliminates snacking throughout the day can limit the growth of bacteria. Remember, the more exposure to sugar, the greater the risk of cavities.
Together, a healthy diet paired with regular brushing will help create healthy habits for your child.