Decay-causing Foods That Will Surprise You
Most of us know that, in the battle against childhood tooth decay, sweetened soft drinks are the mustache-twirling villains. There are sneakier suspects, though, that actually can do just as much damage to your child’s dental health. Pickles? Positively. Lemons? Likely. In fact, this group of edibles includes sodas, fruit juices and acidic foods that many children heartily enjoy.
How do these foods damage teeth? Decay occurs when mouth-residing bacteria produce acids that wear away the hard enamel present on healthy teeth. Bacteria thrive on sugars, the compounds left behind after we consume any one of hundreds of foods and beverages.
When your teeth are not immediately cleaned, sugar from, say, soft drinks lingers on them, providing a hearty meal for bacteria. Equally bacteria friendly, though, are the sugars—added or naturally occurring—in many fruit juices. To minimize residue, have your child sip such beverages through a straw.
But here’s the kicker: Fruit juices can have a second detriment—they are acidic, as well. And acids in foods and drinks affect teeth physically just as bacteria do—they erode enamel.
So, consider acidity when you serve your child otherwise nutritionally beneficial foods, including citrus fruits (lemons, oranges, etc.), tomatoes (including pizza, soup and pasta sauce), and other fruits and vegetables, such as pickles, with high acid content. Sweet honey, too, is surprisingly acidic.
Even without sugar, zero-calorie sodas are potentially harmful. Many contain phosphoric acid, citric acid or both that wear away enamel like any other acids. And while carbonation by itself isn’t corrosive, the artificial sweeteners or flavorings in sparkling waters or seltzers boost the drinks’ acidity. Energy drinks, bottled iced teas and lemonades may contain acids that wear away tooth enamel, as well.
After your child consumes these types of foods or drinks, have him or her rinse immediately with water to dilute and wash away the acids. Because the teeth may be softer after consuming acidic foods, have your child wait 20 minutes before brushing with American Dental Association-approved toothpaste.
The less sugar and acid that remain in your child’s mouth, the fewer dining opportunities those oral-dwelling bacteria will have, and the possibility of erosion of the enamel is diminished. Ask Dr. Jared at KiDDS Dental about other ways your child can enjoy his or her favorite foods—acidic or not—and still maintain terrific oral health.
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