You’ve heard it for years, but it may still be hard to believe: what you feed your children really does play a role in preventing tooth decay! Both adults and children sometimes have a dangerous tendency to think “I can eat this sticky caramel because I’m going to brush my teeth later. I’m really good at brushing my teeth.”
As long as you brush your teeth twice a day, and do a really, really thorough job, you can eat whatever you want—right? Wrong! Unless you brush your teeth promptly after consuming sugary or starchy foods, those hours in between give bacteria the chance to feast on the food residue that sits on your enamel. And when bacteria feast, they create acid emissions that demineralize your enamel.
A highly acidic environment is what leads to the formation of cavities, and it doesn’t take long for bacteria to go to work.
What are some of the worst foods?
- Candy and soda, (obviously)
- White bread
- Potato chips
- Flour tortillas
- Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
- Doritos and Cheetos
- Chewy fruit snacks
- Dried fruit
- Fruit juice and sports drinks
Yes, you read that correctly. Even healthy snacks like dried fruit can be terrible for your children’s teeth. If you are used to giving your child chewy fruit snacks and lemonade as a go-to snack, you should consider more tooth-healthy options.
How Can I Keep Peanut Butter and Jelly on the Menu?
There are a couple of great strategies that can help you prevent an acidic environment in your child’s mouth, without having to give up some of his or her favorite snacks.
Add teeth-cleaning foods at the end of a meal. From crunchy apples and cucumber to broccoli and cauliflower, there are several fruits and vegetables that do a pretty good job of cleaning your teeth between brushings. You may be inclined to tell your child to “eat your veggies first” but vegetables, especially raw ones, are a great clean-up crew after starchy and sweet foods.
Push the water. Keeping your child well hydrated will encourage his/her body to make plenty of saliva, nature’s best defense against tooth decay. Having your child finish a glass of water after eating can also rinse away some food particles without further contributing to an acidic environment (as juice or sports drinks do).
When in doubt, brush. Excessive brushing is not a good habit to take up, but special occasions and special treats are a good time to add an extra tooth brushing to your day. For example, after the movies: all that popcorn/soda/candy and sitting in the dark with your mouth closed is a perfect storm of bacterial acids. Get in the habit of having your child brush their teeth after birthday parties, movies, and other special events with lots of naughty foods.
Do you need a Manhasset pediatric dentist? Dr. Kimmy is an expert on kids’ teeth and the best ways to care for them. Her practice is a pediatric specialty office, so you know your children are in good hands with Dr. Kimmy.Leave a reply →