Before you became a parent, you may have had ideas of the foods your child would eat (salad, anyone?).
But now that you’re in the thick of it, you find yourself allowing your picky eater to eat whatever it is they will actually eat. We’ve been there — kids can be tricky to feed!
We want you to know, this is a judgement-free zone. Nevertheless, when it comes to your child’s dental health, some foods are better than others.
What types of food are the main cavity culprits?
The 4 S’s
The foods that can take a toll on your kiddo’s teeth often fall under one of these four categories:
- Sweet (cookies, popsicles, pudding, juice, sports drinks, fruit pouches)
- Sticky (fruit snacks, dried fruit, granola bars)
- Starchy (chips, graham crackers, cheese crackers)
- Sour (sour candy, oranges, pickles)
Sure, some of these foods have redeeming qualities. Fruit snacks can contain added vitamin C; pudding includes milk, which offers calcium and protein; and crackers are a great shelf-stable option for hungry tummies on the go.
So, why are these foods problematic for tooth decay: it all comes down to one thing — acid.
Why These Foods Cause Trouble
Bacteria live in our mouths and love to feed off the same sweet stuff that we do. But when they consume sugar, they excrete acid.
Acid wears away your child’s enamel and causes cavities.
The more sweet stuff your child eats or the longer that sweet stuff sticks to teeth, the happier those cavity-causing bacteria will be.
What's a Busy Parent to Do?
- Offer alternatives. Fresh fruit, such as apple slices and grapes, offer the added benefit of water and fiber to buffer the sugar they contain. Nuts, baby carrots, cheese sticks, beef jerky, and hearty grain crackers with hummus are also great ideas for teeth-friendly snacking.
- Bulk up their meals so they don’t snack as frequently between meals. The more time those teeth have to clean themselves with saliva between meals, the better.
- Encourage frequent water drinking. Teach them how to swish with water to help remove some of the food stuck to their teeth.
- Maintain a daily oral health regimen. Brush twice a day and floss once a day.
- Visit the dentist regularly. Your child’s dentist will be able to spot any problems early on, or make individual recommendations base on your child.
There are also a variety of products on the market, like beverages and candy, made with stevia or xylitol instead of sugar. Your kiddos can still feel like they’re getting a treat, and you can feel guilt-free offering them something yummy that won’t send them to the dentist.