Parents are always looking out for their child’s health. They make sure their children eat a well-balanced diet, get plenty of exercise, and go to bed at an appropriate time.
Something parents should pay extra attention to, though, is their children’s dental health. There are certain snacks and drinks that may seem harmless, but can damage a child’s smile. You may want to reconsider giving your children these six common snacks and drinks if you want them to have great dental health.
Any sugary candy is not good for a child’s dental health, but chewy candy, in particular, should be avoided.
A dentist for children will tell you that chewy candy can easily get stuck on children’s teeth. It can be difficult for children to get this sticky candy and extra sugar off their teeth, especially in those hard to reach areas (like the back teeth.)
If your child is eating chewy candy, make sure they floss and brush their teeth diligently after they’re done. If they don’t, that sticky candy can stick to their teeth for a couple of days and weaken their tooth enamel.
Many parents think dried fruit is a healthy snack alternative for children. However, eating dried fruit often can negatively impact a child’s dental health.
Dried fruit, such as raisins, apricots, and prunes, are sticky and full of sugar, much like a chewy candy. If a child eats dried fruit, it’s likely that they’ll get some stuck in their teeth. If your child is snacking on dried fruit, make sure they either rinse their mouth with water or brush their teeth afterward. These actions will help get the sticky dried fruit and the excess sugar off their teeth.
Another fruit that is not good for a child’s dental health is any form of citrus fruit. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, are naturally acidic. While they may be filled with healthy vitamins, their natural acid can weaken tooth enamel. If tooth enamel keeps getting weakened over time, it will eventually lead to tooth decay.
Now, this does not mean that you should cut citrus fruit out of your child’s diet altogether. Your child can still eat citrus fruit, as long as it’s in healthy portions. It’s best to contact a dentist for children if you have questions about how to manage your child’s dental health, especially if citrus fruit is a staple in their diet.
Crackers are one of those snacks that seem harmless, but can damage teeth. Crackers are a form of carbohydrate made from white flour. If left in the mouth and in between teeth, crackers will break down into sugars. These sugars will then be consumed by bacteria, which will then produce acid. This acid can weaken tooth enamel and cause other dental health issues for kids.
Crackers aren’t the only kind of carbohydrate that can cause dental health issues. White bread and pasta are also made from white flour, which means they break down into those same sugars if left between teeth.
Any dentist for children will advise you to not give your child soda. A child’s dental health could suffer greatly if they drink too much of it.
Soda is a carbonated beverage that is full of sugar. Bacteria will feed on this sugar, just like they feed on sugar produced by carbohydrates made from white flour. Bacteria will then produce the acid that weakens tooth enamel. The more soda a child drinks, the more sugar is in their mouth. The more sugar in their mouth, the more likely bacteria will consume it and create enamel-damaging acid.
If your child does drink soda, be sure to monitor their dental hygiene. Drinking too much soda, or eating too many sugary snacks, can cause cavities and other dental health issues.
Sports drinks are marketed as a great hydration choice for children during or after a big game. However, sports drinks are often acidic and contain extra sugar. While this may be beneficial for hydration, it doesn’t do a child’s dental health any favors. The acid and sugar in a sports drink can damage tooth enamel, and in some cases, stain teeth.
While sports drinks can be bad for teeth, research says that exposure to energy drinks like Rockstar, Monster®, and Red Bull® resulted in twice as much enamel loss as exposure to sports drinks like Powerade®, Gatorade®, and Propel® (3.1% to 1.5%). If you have questions about the effects specific drinks have on a child’s dental health, it’s best to contact your local pediatric dentist.
Your child’s dental health is an essential part of their overall health. Be sure to research healthier food and drink options. The more good dental hygiene habits you teach them early on, the better their dental health will be throughout their life. Remember, if you have any questions about healthy dental habits, you should contact a dentist for children and get their expert opinion.