We are so happy to announce that Dr. Melissa Skinner has joined the North Shore Mama Expert panel as our resident Dental Expert. This is the first of many informative posts that Melissa will be sharing with us. Welcome to the team, Melissa
Snacks & Mouth Healthy Tips
We are all aware that a balanced, nutritious diet is essential to healthy living… But did you know that eating patterns and food choices play an important role in preventing tooth decay??
Firstly, here’s a brief explanation on how cavities are formed. Bacteria in your mouth use sugars and simple carbohydrates for food, causing a by-product (acid) that destroys tooth.
So, I have come up with some tips that all parents should know to keep their family’s teeth healthy and cavity-free!
Let’s start with juice. It is one of the largest contributors of dental cavities in children. Juice is basically pure sugar. My tip to parents is to offer juice at mealtimes only. Water or milk is a better drink at snack times. Also, dilute the juice with water. You may need to dilute the juice slowly over time if your child is already used to the very sweet taste. If you’re super keen, try making your own flavored water with berries, mint and orange slices. It’s sugar-free and fun for the kids to make at home.
Next, try to avoid giving your kids sticky sweet snacks. Fruit leathers, caramels, raisins, and toffee are all examples. The sugary food will be stuck between their teeth for over an hour… giving the bacteria ample time to create tooth damage. It’s important to know that it is the length of time teeth are exposed to sugar that causes cavities…. Not necessarily the amount of sugar.
This brings us to milk… yes it has sugar too! Allowing your child to go to bed with a bottle of milk (or juice) is very risky for baby teeth. The milk sits on the teeth as the child falls asleep and causes rampant decay. Dentists see this problem much too often. Instead, try warm water, or warm herbal tea. And just to clarify, no added sugar!
Snack time should include healthy choices. Much too often, snacks include sugars or carbohydrates, like chips. Grazing on sugar increases the time teeth are exposed to acids. So try to make snack time healthy.
So what are the most tooth-friendly snacks?
Cheese, plain yogurt, almonds, meats and eggs are great choices. Fruits and vegetables are good choices for healthy smiles since they are high in fiber and water, which balance the sugars they contain. They also stimulate saliva production that helps wash away food particles and neutralize acids.
Remember to brush your child’s teeth twice daily. My last tip is to only offer your child water after cleaning their teeth at night. Saliva production decreases during sleep making teeth vulnerable.