When you’re a parent, you might hear yourself frequently saying no to the treats your kids want most.
Candy apples? No.
Sugary sodas? No.
Sticky taffy? No.
Caramel corn? No.
But what snacks can you say yes to without feeling guilty you might be letting your children harm their teeth?
There are going to be some dental services you can’t prevent through diet, like wisdom teeth removal or braces, but you can ward off gum disease and cavities. There are so many great foods that promote healthy teeth, and you might already be feeding them to your family without even knowing it.
Here’s a guide from Texas Dental Group to feeding your family foods throughout the day that will keep them satisfied and help protect their teeth, too.
Your kids might like to start their day with a great big glass of orange juice, or your teen may be trying to get into coffee drinking. Highly acidic drinks like OJ, coffee, soda, and sports drinks are harmful to the enamel of your teeth.
If your kids have these types of drinks, make sure they brush their teeth before eating their breakfast or wait a half an hour after breakfast to brush to give their saliva a chance to neutralize the acid in their mouth.
Milk, however, is a more smile-friendly choice in the morning. It decreases the acid levels in your mouth and provides nutrients your teeth love, like calcium. For your mouth’s drink of choice, milk is second only to water. If your teen insists on something hot and caffeinated in the morning, sub in green tea for coffee, because tea is good source of fluoride.
What kind of goodies can you send your children to school with to keep their smiles aglow? Most kids aren’t good about flossing their teeth after lunch, so stay away from starchy foods like potato chips, popcorn, and crackers that like to wiggle down between your kids’ teeth and get the bacteria party started.
Instead, choose fruits or veggies to fulfill your kids’ crunch cravings. A wide variety of apples can always be found at the grocery store, even when other fruits aren’t in season. Apples are a superb choice at the end of a meal because they’re filled with nutrients, and the fiber helps produce saliva and treats your gums to a “massage.”
To get calcium into your kids’ lunch bags, choose foods like cups of low-sugar yogurt, cubes of hard cheeses, and nuts like almonds and cashews. Yogurt does double duty by also filling your kids’ mouths with good bacteria to help battle the bad.
Later in the day, your kids will begin to clamor for a snack to tie them over until dinnertime. Snack time can be filled with all sorts of dental diet landmines. Maneuver your kids past cookies and other sweet treats by getting them their sweet-tooth fix with fruits like strawberries and kiwis, both high in vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your body repair your teeth and gums.
Carrots and celery are also excellent snack options because they require a lot of chewing, and all that chewing gets your kids’ saliva going. Saliva is your body’s first defense against tooth decay. And some people believe that strands of celery can help clean between your teeth as you chew — but we wouldn’t recommend skipping your daily flossing no matter how much your kid loves “ants on a log” as a snack.
Eating dinner together has shown to be one of the most valuable things families can do for their children, but you can get even more out of dinnertime by filling your children’s plates with foods that can fortify their smiles.
If meat is the star of most dinners, you’re already headed in the right direction. Many meats contain an amino acid called arginine that may defend your mouth against plaque buildup. And if you have a vegetarian at home, soy promotes good gum health. If you’re serving up salmon or tuna, you’ll be feeding your family vitamin D, an important way of making sure your bones can absorb calcium.
Sauté your meals with bacteria fighters and gum disease fighters like garlic, onions, and ginger. And round out your meal with sides like sweet potato and green veggies like kale, spinach, and peas to re-up your family’s supply of vitamin A. Vitamin A helps build bones and provides a boost to your body’s immune system, which may help gums fight off disease.
We know there’s a lot of information out there, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed at the grocery store. You want to make the right mealtime choices for your family, but that can be hard if you’re always on the go between work, school, athletics, and band practice. Sometimes it’s all you can do to make sure your kids have eaten anything at all.
But you can make better choices for your family by preparing a bit beforehand. Your family dentist, Dr. Memmott, is a resource you can rely on when making choices for your family. Come in and talk to us about nutritional counseling that can keep your family’s teeth and gums strong and healthy and even prevent the need for more costly procedures down the road.
We are a health-centered dental office that offers family dental care in Spring, TX. We accept most insurance plans. Reach us at 832-791-1706 to schedule an appointment today!