Dr. Sheila Hall is committed to dental health. She provides dental services daily and makes a point to inform parents about the many ways to keep their teeth, as well as their children’s, healthy and strong: “we all know about daily brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits, but don’t forget about the importance of a healthy diet”, she notes.
Dr. Hall’s reminder mirrors the recommendations of the American Dental Association which warns parents about the damage done to teeth by food with high sugar content. Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Many common foods and beverages, considered to be healthy, are actually high in added sugar. Below are some things parents should keep in mind when offering food and drinks to kids.
Juice and soda are often high in sugar and calories. Children who sip juice throughout the day tend to be at a higher risk of tooth decay. Even watered down juice can harm healthy teeth because the amount of sugar being consumed is not being reduced. Try limiting the amount of juice your child drinks and skip soda altogether; instead, offer water or milk first.
Food and snacks that seem healthy may, in fact, do more harm to teeth than good if they are sticky treats such as fruit snacks, fruit roll-ups, and even raisins. The problem is that sticky snacks stick to teeth longer than crackers or even milk chocolate, which rinse out easily. Since sticky foods remain in the mouth longer, bacteria have more opportunity to produce acids that cause tooth decay.
Foods high in carbohydrates cause problems because carbs break down into sugar in the body. Foods like chips, crackers, and bread also stick to teeth and the top of the mouth for long periods of time. Try offering children healthier, low carb food options and always check food labels for sugar content.
Lead by example
Dr. Hall has another important tip for parents to help keep their kids’ teeth strong: “when parents have a healthy mouth, the kids will copy!” Remember to model healthy dental habits and kids will do the same.