Kids and junk food—the two almost go hand-in-hand. Then comes the cavities. If cutting junk food from your kids’ diet is downright unrealistic, give these “Choosing Safer Junk Food” tips a try.
Remember: Cavities Affect More than Your Wallet
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, childhood cavities can begin as early as with the first tooth and can “affect speech… eating… sleeping, learning, playing and quality of life, even into adulthood.”
Choosing Safer Junk Food
If the celery sticks, apples and carrots aren’t working, here are some tasty but “dental-friendly” snacks.
Popcorn (not caramelized!): This treat acts as a natural tooth “detergent” in addition to being nutritious.
Sunflower or Pumpkin seeds: These gentle dental scrubbers won’t leave a starch-filled, gummy residue (a bacteria playground!) that potato chips will.
Cheese cubes/strings: Cheese contains caseins, along with calcium, which play an important role in stabilizing and repairing tooth enamel.
What about Sweets for the Sweet Child?
Since everyone knows sugar contributes greatly to cavities, are there any yummy dental-friendly “junk food” sweets?
Sugar-free Gum: Many varieties of sugarless gum are sweetened with xylitol, a natural sugar that reduces bacteria. Chewing sugar-free gum will actually benefit your teeth because it stimulates the production of saliva—washing away acids and bits of food from your mouth.
Sugar-free Hard candies or Lollipops: (notice the emphasis on “sugar-free”) These treats stimulate saliva so plaque won’t build up as quickly. Hard candies that do contain sugar are a dental nightmare because they dissolve slowly and saturate your mouth, giving bacteria more time to produce harmful acids.
Dark Chocolate: This type of chocolate is the closest to the cocoa bean, which contains tannins, polyphenols, and flavonoids. Each of these elements offer a strong antioxidant that benefits the mouth and teeth. The advantage of chocolate for a sweet treat is it dissolves quickly in the mouth, decreasing the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth.
Sodas: Even a sugar-free soda is harmful to teeth because of its acidic nature. If you must drink it, use a straw and place it as far back in your mouth as you can, in hopes of by-passing the majority of your teeth.
Water or Milk: Water is an excellent choice! However, if that just isn’t acceptable to your palate, what about milk? Even if you end up adding some chocolate to the milk, it’s still better for your teeth than soda.
Give your children the gift of a healthy smile by providing them with treats that are yummy, but doesn’t wreak havoc on their teeth. Regular check-ups/professional dental cleanings are also an important to smiles at the top of their games. Book your next family dental appointment with our dentist in Durham, NC!
Please share: What healthy snacks have you discovered are popular choices with your family?