• Healthy Smiles: Foods & Drinks for Your Kids to Avoid

    Kids Dental CareYour child’s diet is vitally important in determining how healthy their teeth will be. And sugar, despite how tasty sweet treats are, is the main culprit.

    Whenever we eat or drink foods with sugar or starches in them, bacteria feeds on the sugar and create acids, which eat away at tooth enamel and cause tooth decay.

    That’s why you should be careful what your kids eat and drink.

    Candy

    Believe it or not, coming from a children’s dentist, not all candy is equally bad. Chewy candies, or ones that can be sucked on for long periods of time, are worse than fast-dissolving candies like chocolates because they allow sugar to have contact with teeth for longer periods of time. Stay away from taffy, gummy fruit snacks, caramels, non-sugar-free gum, sour candies (with citric acid already in them), and jawbreakers (which are hard enough to damage teeth).

    Sugary Drinks

    Sipping sugar-filled drinks for long periods of time is a bad idea. Caffeinated drinks are even worse because they dry out the mouth, making it less possible that saliva will help mitigate the effects of plaque.

    As for sports drinks? They sound healthy but sugar is still one of the main ingredients. Unless your children are elite athletes, they should stick with water. And unfortunately, fruit juice is included here as well. Juice can definitely have health benefits, but its full of sugar.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies under six months old get no juice at all, and children between 7-18 should get no more than 12 ounces daily.

    Foods High in Refined Carbohydrates

    Carbs contain simple sugars, which dissolve in your mouth and cause a surge of acid. Many of these foods get gummy when chewed, so particles get trapped between teeth. Foods included on this list are “white” grains, like white bread and rice, pancakes, cookies and jellies. Sweeteners such as honey, molasses, sugar and maple syrup are also refined carbs. Snacks like chips and popcorn fall under this category as well.

    Sticky and Crunchy Foods

    Think dried fruit, peanut butter, jam, granola, frosting, and pizza. Not only are these foods high in sugar, they’re sticky. This means they allow food to actually adhere to your teeth, or get stuck between them, where the bacteria can feast upon the sugar particles.

    If you can’t completely eliminate foods like these from your child’s diet, reducing them will help. Limit between-meal snacks, which allow teeth time to recover. Have kids drink water after eating to rinse the sugar off. And make sure your kids don’t eat after they brush their teeth at night, when the sugar can linger on their teeth overnight. This will help your kids maintain their beautiful grins, and give them healthy dental habits that will last a lifetime.

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