Most kids need a morning and/or an afternoon snack. But are you choosing the best one? Many so called “healthy” snacks are actually filled with sugar that increases the risk of tooth decay. Sure, sugary snacks taste delicious, but they’re really harmful to your child’s teeth. Even if a product is labeled as organic, GMO free or Gluten free, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you or your children’s teeth.
Cavities develop when there is tooth decay. Tooth decay happens when the bacteria in your mouth consume the sugars in the things you eat and drink. Over time, the bacteria forms a sticky film called plaque. This plaque gradually dissolves the enamel of the tooth and if not removed, will eventually causes cavities.
Here are a few not so tooth friendly snacks to avoid:
- Dried fruit, fruit leathers and fruit snacks
Not only are they loaded with sugar, but these snacks are gooey and sticky and cling to the surface of teeth and gums.
- Energy, protein or granola bars
These may seem like a good choice, but in reality they are pretty similar to candy bars in the amount of sugar and calories. And many contain sticky dried fruit that sticks to teeth that lingers between a child’s teeth long after the snack is eaten.
- Cracker snacks
Crackers like goldfish, graham crackers, potato chips and bagel chips also stick to teeth. These types of snacks contain carbohydrates that when broken down, turn into sugar which contributes to cavities.
- Sports drinks
Sports drinks contain extra calories and high levels of sugar, almost as much as two-thirds the sugar of soda drinks. The extra calories can lead to potential weight problems and the extra sugar can lead to dental problems. They can also be acidic and contribute to enamel erosion.
So what can you do to ensure that your little one has a lifetime of healthy teeth and happy smiles? Here are a few truly healthy and teeth friendly snack ideas:
- Fresh fruit and crunchy vegetables. Both are high in fiber and will help fill up those hungry bellies. Plus, the act of chewing crisp fruits and veggies can scrub away food particles and plaque.
- Apples dipped in peanut butter.
- Pears and strawberries with yogurt.
- Carrots, broccoli, celery and cucumbers dipped in hummus.
- A note about citrus fruits, such as oranges, and grapefruit – These can be a natural and healthy snack, full of vitamins and minerals. However, citrus fruits contain citric acid which can cause enamel erosion. Moderation is key!
- A handful of unsalted or low-salt nuts, such as almonds or walnuts. (Avoid if your child has a nut allergy)
- A lunch meat and cheese roll up.
- A small bowl of cottage cheese or low-sugar yogurt. Both are excellent sources of calcium and vitamin D, which are needed by the body for healthy bones and teeth.
- A bowl of low-sugar cereal with low-fat milk.
- Peanut Butter. It’s packed with fiber and protein. Spread on celery stalks. Be sure to avoid peanut butter if your child has a nut allergy.
- Small cubes of cheese. Especially cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss, and other aged cheeses. According to WebMD, these cheeses trigger the flow of saliva which helps to wash food particles away from teeth.
- Choose water instead of soda or juice. Soda and juice contain a lot of sugar and water will help rinse away food particles.
Beware of all day snacking
According to the American Dental Association, “Snacking a lot during the day can increase the risk of developing tooth decay. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, forms on your teeth all the time. When you have foods or drinks that contain sugar, the bacteria in plaque produce harmful acids that attack your tooth enamel. These acids can stay in your mouth for up to 20 minutes after you eat. Frequent acid attacks can break down the enamel and cavities can develop.”
Next time you or your child reach for a snack, choose something that’s nutritious and filling. Don’t forget to brush and floss!
Voted Best Pediatric Dentists of Clay County, Growing Healthy Smiles Pediatric Dentistry is here for your family! Contact us to schedule an appointment for your child. (904) 215-7800