Snack Attack on Your Child’s Teeth
Today’s children are exposed to more food choices than ever before. A wide variety of edibles, from fruits and vegetables to sugary and salty snacks to fast food, is available. And children love to snack. It’s common knowledge that what children eat can have a major impact on their health and well-being. But even the decision of when to eat can have a major impact on a child’s dental health.
Everyone knows that sugary foods and drinks can cause tooth decay. The sugar in that chocolate-frosted, cream-filled cupcake provides food for bacteria that grow in the mouth. These bacteria produce acid that eats away at tooth enamel. The result: cavities. And the sodas your child is chugging down? More sugar.
Even healthy foods can be a source of sugar. Fruit and fruit juices are loaded with natural sugars. Almost half the calories in carrots come from sugars. The starches in foods like bread, potatoes and pretzels convert to sugars, too. In fact, almost all food and drink we consume contains some type of sugar.
Does that mean that your child needs to stop eating and drinking to protect his or her teeth? Of course not. Interestingly, the time when your child eats can make a big difference. The snacks and drinks your child consumes between meals contribute more to tooth decay than your child’s mealtime foods. Studies have shown that the mouth needs 20 minutes to neutralize after each exposure to sugar. That means the frequent consumption of sugar, even in small doses, has a harmful effect on teeth.
When you child sits down to a meal, he or she produces more saliva, which helps to neutralize acid production and rinse food particles from the mouth. If you allow your child to have sugary drinks or snacks, limit them to mealtime, when your child’s natural mouth cleanser is most effective. Between meals, encourage your child to drink water rather than soft drinks or juice. Closely monitor snacks. If your child is old enough to chew gum, offer sugarless chewing gum, especially gum flavored with xylitol, which increases saliva flow and stimulates cleaning.
And, of course, make sure your child brushes and flosses regularly. Good dental hygiene, good eating habits and regular dental visits to KiDDS Dental all help keep your child’s smile healthy and bright.
Click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.