How healthy are your regular snacks? More importantly – how healthy are your children’s? February is Children’s Dental Health Month, and we’re celebrating by promoting healthy eating awareness for kids everywhere.
While you know that soda and candy are terrible for your teeth, there are quite a few seemingly “healthy” snacks that do just as much damage. Make sure you’re not accidentally putting these on your child’s (or your own) plate so that you can help them avoid cavities and build a strong smile.
Without even realizing it, you may be wreaking havoc on your children’s teeth with these snacks that are typically considered healthy:
While fresh grapes and plums are considered good snack choices, if these fruits are dried, they quickly turn from hero to villain. Although often thought of as a healthy choice, dried fruits like raisins, mango, and apricots are no better than eating a sticky, chewy caramel. When fruits are dried, the sugar becomes highly concentrated and the gummy texture clings to teeth as much as a piece of candy would.
Just like dried fruits, fruit snacks are packed with non-soluble cellulose fiber, which can bind and trap sugars on and around the tooth, making it worse than candy. These fruity little snacks may be convenient, but they’re not a healthy option.
Many starchy foods, including white bread, potato chips, puffs, and pastas are easily lodged between teeth and in the crevices. While they may not initially taste sweet, the starches quickly begin converting to sugar almost immediately after being consumed.
Citrus fruits may be a great way to add subtle, and natural flavoring to water and teas, but these fruits contain powerful citric acid. Oranges, lemons and grapefruit can be a healthy part of your diet, but they should be consumed quickly, preferably as part of a meal, and teeth should be rinsed with water immediately afterwards.
Kids love juice, and it’s easy to see why. These kinds of beverages, especially citrus, apple and berry varieties are high in sugar and acids that damage teeth quickly. Limit your kids’ use of sippy cups, especially when offering juice, as these cups make your children more susceptible to negative effects – their teeth directly contact the surface of the cup, which makes it easier for sugar to build up.
Do your adult teeth a favor, and cut back on these unhealthy options that as adults, we often consume without ever thinking twice. You only get one set of adult teeth, so take care of them by avoiding:
Alcohol causes dehydration and dry mouth. People who drink excessively may find their saliva flow reducing over time, which can lead to tooth decay and other oral infections such as gum disease. Heavy alcohol use also increases your risk for mouth cancer.
They sound healthy, but sugar is a top ingredient for many sports and energy drinks. The American Academy of Pediatrics says sports drinks can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activities, but the drinks are unnecessary in most cases. Before your next sip, check the label to make sure your drink of choice is low in sugar; or, just drink water.
When you eat sugary foods or sip sugary drinks for long periods of time, plaque bacteria use that sugar to produce acids that attack your enamel (the hard surface of your tooth). Most carbonated soft drinks, including diet soda, are acidic and therefore, bad for your teeth. Caffeinated beverages such as colas can also dry out your mouth. If you do consume soft drinks, try to drink them alongside a cup of water.
It’s just as important for your children to see the dentist for exams on a regular basis as it is for you and your oral health. Scheduling regular dental exams for you and your kids every 6 months (that’s twice a year!) will keep your whole family smiling.
Be proactive and stay ahead of problems before they turn into bigger, more expensive issues. Tompkins Dental is here to help you take care of all of your smiles and your whole family’s oral health, so schedule exams for everyone today.