Proper nutrition is important for kids. It builds strong bodies, it’s vital for learning, and it can also stave off cavities, fillings, and extensive (and expensive) dental work. Building good habits doesn’t just happen at mealtime; figuring out healthy snacks for your kids builds good habits that last a lifetime, and can also promote dental health. Here’s your guide to healthy snacking from Smile On Dental Salon.
What Causes Tooth Decay
To understand why some snacks are better than others, it helps to remember what causes tooth decay in the first place. Our mouths are populated by millions of bacteria that feed on the food left behind when we eat, and those bacteria leave acids behind as a byproduct of digestion. The more sugar and starch in those foods, the more acid — and the higher the incidence of tooth decay.
Foods to Avoid
If we’re trying to avoid tooth decay — whether for ourselves or our kids — we can start by not laying out a banquet for bacteria. Starchy and sugary foods like candy, soda, fruit juice, and certain fruits should be avoided or eaten in moderation.
Some foods, like gummy bears, Starburst, and even raisins, have a tendency to stick to teeth and hold the acid in place; avoid those, too. And don’t think that savory foods are always the answer, since starches like potatoes and corn break down in the mouth in much the same way sugars would (in addition to the added sugars contained even in savory snacks).
Foods to Pack
There are a number of foods that can keep kids satisfied between meals without raising the risk of cavities.
- Yogurt. Dairy is nutritious and helps build strong teeth and bones, but check sugar content.
- Cheese is filling and has proteins and calcium for strong teeth. String cheese can be fun to eat, and some cheeses also taste great with other foods on this list.
- Apples and celery, since the fiber keeps bellies full and also helps clean teeth.
- Hummus with pita chips, veggies, or pretzels can be a healthier alternative to junk food.
- Nuts are tasty and also have lean protein, without the starch and additives found in chips.
Best Drinks for Kids’ Teeth
Kids like juice boxes, and we’re often more comfortable packing them with a lunch or offering them with a snack because they don’t contain refined sugars. But fructose — the naturally-occurring sugar found in fruits and some veggies — is still sugar, and still leads to tooth decay as surely as the refined stuff in Coke, chocolate milk, or fruit punch. Stick to water. It keeps the body hydrated and doesn’t have any tooth-damaging “extras.”
Even if your kid loves healthy food and turns their nose up at candy and junk food, you’ll still need to incorporate one more healthy habit: brush frequently. Brushing every morning and evening is essential, and if your little one’s going to indulge in something sweet (everybody deserves a treat every now and then), encourage them to rinse their mouth out with water when they can’t brush.
Of course, you don’t want to guess at your kids’ oral health. Preventive dental care in the form of checkups and cleanings are an important part of keeping children’s teeth healthy, so be sure to stay on schedule with Smile On Dental Salon & Sleep Apnea Center !