One question that many dentists and hygienists ask at cleanings is what snacks your child eats, and how often. There’s a good reason for that. Snacking can cause plaque growth and tooth decay, especially if it’s sugary foods being consumed. Acids form in your mouth when you eat sugar, which can damage your enamel. Snacking continually doesn’t give your teeth a break, but rather gives the acid more opportunities to damage your teeth. The plaque in your mouth feeds off the sugar in food, forming the damaging acid.
But kids need some in-between meal snacks to keep them going. Choosing the snacks wisely can help them keep a healthy mouth. Instead of avoiding all sugary food, try limiting high sugar snacks to once or twice a day, when your kids can brush their teeth after or at least not have the constant sugar flow.
What snacks are best for your child’s teeth?
- Vegetables: Carrots and celery sticks are not only nutritious; they pack a crunchy punch. Of course those aren’t the only vegetables. You can also offer broccoli, tomatoes and cucumbers too.
- Fresh Fruit: Fruit offers lots of healthful options for snacking. Oranges and tangerines are a satisfying snack, as are grapes, apples, watermelon, pears, pineapple chunks (not in sugar syrup) and melon.
- Whole grain crackers: For carb-loving kids who want a crunchy cracker, try a whole grain or plain cracker. You can add some hummus as well, for dipping.
- Popcorn: Air pop some popcorn (skip the sweet kettle corn) for a tasty treat.
- Pretzels and chips: Baked tortilla chips and low-salt pretzels are great kids’ snacks, that won’t damage their teeth.
- Dairy: Lots of options here, including yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese and milk.
- Seeds and nuts: They’re not just for squirrels! Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are a scrumptious snack, as are roasted nuts. Avoid the sugar-coated nuts like honey-roasted ones, and of course don’t send nuts to school if your school has an allergy policy.
Some snacks to avoid:
- Chewy and sticky sweets: The sugar in chewy and sticky sweets, like caramel and taffy, means that the sugar stays in your mouth longer, damaging your teeth.
- Soda: Though it’s a drink, some kids drink soda with meals or as a snack. Since it’s liquid, the sugar in soda has a great chance of reaching all parts of the teeth.
- Bagels/muffins: Some high-carb foods are also high in sugar. If made with white flour, you may want to limit your child’s snacking with these foods.
If you have questions about snacks that are good for your child’s teeth, ask your dentist in St. Petersburg FL. Dental offices like Klement Family Dental can also answer your questions about sedation dentistry, dentures, dental implants, fillings, extractions and regular dental care. We can act as an emergency dentist as well.