GROWING BODIES NEED a lot of fuel, and that means a lot of after-school snacks. The nature of those snacks can have a big impact on a child’s oral health during this critical period when they’re losing baby teeth and growing in their permanent set. So which snacks are the best ones if you’re trying to watch out for your children’s oral health?
SNACKS TO AVOID
Most children would eat cookies and candy and drink soda pop all day if they could, but these tasty treats aren’t just bad for their health, they’re bad for their teeth. Many types of bacteria live in our mouths, some good for us, some bad. Sugar happens to be the bad bacteria’s favorite food, and after they eat it, they excrete acid onto our teeth as a waste product, which can dissolve our enamel and lead to tooth decay. Carbonated drinks contain acids that can harm our teeth too, and most fruit juice has as much sugar as soda does.
Now, we know it’s unreasonable to suggest that you forbid your child from all sugary foods and drinks forever. However, a great way to reduce your child’s risk of developing cavities is limiting their consumption of these kinds of treats to special occasions, instead of using them as daily snacks.
THE RIGHT SNACKS
If sugary foods and drinks are the wrong kinds of snacks for healthy teeth, then what are the right ones? You can’t go wrong with fresh fruits and vegetables, and cheese and nuts are great snacks too! Foods like apples and strawberries can actually scrub our teeth clean as we eat them.
If your child is picky about eating fruits and veggies, then try some yogurt with berries mixed in or hummus dip to go with the carrots and celery sticks. And don’t forget to wash those snacks down with a refreshing glass of milk or water! Beyond being a good source of calcium, milk is a mild base and can reduce the impact of eating acidic foods.
Looking for some creative snack ideas? Check out this video:
TIMING MATTERS TOO
After we eat, it takes about half an hour for saliva to neutralize any leftover acids and wash away any remaining food particles from our latest meal or snack. However, if we constantly snack throughout the day, our saliva won’t be able to do its job. This is why it’s better for our children’s oral health if they stick to designated snack times instead of always having something to munch on throughout the day — even when the snacks in question are healthy ones.
SNACKS ARE ONE PART OF THE EQUATION
Making sure your children eat healthy after-school snacks is an important part of keeping their teeth healthy and teaching them good dental habits for life, just like brushing their teeth twice a day, flossing, and coming to see the dentist every six months are. We look forward to seeing them again soon, and make sure to bring any questions you have about healthy snacks when you bring them in!
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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.