Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Healthy Snacks for Healthy Teeth

As parents, we all know how important good nutrition is for our children’s health and well-being. Did you know that a healthy diet isn’t just great for their overall health but also their dental health? Aside from providing vitamins and minerals for growing teeth, what we feed our kids can directly impact their risk for tooth decay – especially when it comes to snacks.

My patients’ have some pretty savvy parents so I know they aren’t snacking on candy and sugary sweets. However, there are other sneaky snack choices that are not so obvious. Even some snacks that might ordinarily be healthy can actually harm your children’s teeth such as highly-acidic citrus fruits and starchy fruits and veggies that convert to sugars when your child chews them, such as bananas. Save those options to accompany a meal with prompt brushing after, instead of using them as snacks.

So what are some good choices? Crunchy fresh fruits and veggies not only strength the muscles your child uses to chew food but also help strengthen teeth. Veggies like raw carrots, cucumbers, and celery are terrific choices. Crisp fruits like apples, pears, and melons are ideal because they have high water content and are lower in enamel-damaging acids. When reaching for dairy snacks, aged cheeses are lower in lactose (a type of sugar found in dairy products) or reach for low-fat plain yogurt. Avoid the brightly-colored flavored yogurt options – they’re loaded with sugar! Instead, serve the plain yogurt along with one of the fruit choices for a doubly healthy snack. And remember to stick with good old fashioned water instead of soda or juices.

If you are changing over to healthier snacks, here are some tips to help you with the process.
  • Don’t give multiple snack choices. You choose the snack for the day and stick with it!
  • Change the daily snack each day to avoid boredom and expose your child to a variety of interesting foods. 
  • Cut snacks into fun shapes that encourage your child’s interest and creativity. 
  • Be patient! Change takes time but stick with it! Your child will adjust and begin to look forward to their fun healthy snacks.

Healthy snacks are not only good for your children’s overall health but also for their dental health – preventing cavities and strengthening their teeth. I can’t wait to have your child join our No Cavity Club at their next appointment. Happy snacking!