What your child eats affects their oral health. The best thing you can do as a parent is to encourage your children to make healthier food choices. Here are a few common snacks that can be detrimental to the health of your child’s teeth and a smile-friendly alternative for each of them.
Sodas & Sugary Drinks
Sodas and sugary drinks can be tough to avoid, but they’re also one of the most common threats to your child’s dental health. The sugar in these drinks combines with the bacteria in their mouths and forms acids that attack the enamel on your child’s teeth, leaving them susceptible to decay. Limit sodas and try to establish them as more of an occasional treat while you establish a water habit for your child. Add a lemon, lime or cucumber to their water to give it a more flavorful twist.
Similar to sodas, ice cream can easily become a problem for a child’s oral health. The high sugar content and extreme cold temperature weaken enamel which can lead to serious problems down the road. A great alternative to an ice cream sundae is yogurt (low in sugar) with fresh fruit. The fruit will provide flavor they are craving; plus, the many oral health benefits of yogurt are well-documented.
Potato Chips & Starchy Snacks
You might not think of potato chips as a particularly risky food, since they have little sugar. However, these foods can easily get wedged and hidden between your child’s teeth. Potato’s starch converts into sugar as soon as you consume them. Instead, try eating different types of nuts. Peanuts, almonds and walnuts, provide vitamins that strengthen children’s teeth and minerals that stimulate saliva production.
Of course, regular (6 month) dental checkups and cleanings are essential in keeping healthy teeth. Until then, establish good eating habits to help improve your child’s oral health.