Parents can protect their children’s teeth by avoiding certain foods. When children eat some foods, normal mouth bacteria convert that food to acid and when saliva is acidic, calcium dissolves from enamel, eventually allowing cavities. Avoiding certain foods can prevent this damage. Our list includes five foods that should be avoided in order to protect your children’s teeth.
#1 Hard and Sticky Candy
Although children love candy because it is sweet, the large amount of sugar it contains can cause tooth decay. Those that are particular sticky, such as jellybeans, licorice, caramel, chewy toffee, and gummy bears are the worst. Cough drops may stop a child’s cough, but since they are sucked on and remain in the mouth for a long period, they can cause decay. The solution is to choose sugar free varieties.
#2 Dried and Citrus Fruit
If you think substituting dried or citrus fruit for candy is a good choice, think again. Since mouth bacteria convert all sugars to acid, even eating a piece of fruit can present problems. Additionally, acidic citrus such as lemons and oranges demineralize teeth enamel immediately, especially if sucked. Fruit is packed with non-soluble cellulose fiber, which can bind sugars and trap them on and around the tooth, making it worse than candy.
#3 Starches and Chewy Foods
Many starchy foods, such as bread, pasta, and chips, can become lodged between the teeth. They may not taste sweet, but these starches begin converting to sugar right away in a child’s mouth. In addition, some “healthy” snack choices also stick to children’s teeth – peanut butter, figs, raisins, and oatmeal to name a few.
#4 Soda and Sweet Drinks
Soda not only contains loads of sugar, but also carbonation, which can erode the enamel on your child’s teeth. Diet drinks are not any better as they contain phosphoric and citric acids, which damage teeth. Many other canned drinks contain flavor-enhancing organic acids that erode teeth enamel.
#5 Mouth-Drying Foods
Many medications, such as those for emotional problems, can leave the mouth dry, endangering teeth and gums. If your child is taking any medication, check with your doctor to find out if a side effect is dry mouth. You may need to take steps to keep your child’s mouth hydrated, such as frequent water drinking, mouth rinses, or a prescription hydration solution.
If your children do eat one of these five foods, make sure they brush their teeth as soon as possible. Some foods should only be eaten at home, to make this possible. The demineralization effect of soda and fruit juices can be minimized by drinking some water right after the soda and juice. Also, have you child use straws to keep the liquid away from their teeth as much as possible.
Some of the damage caused by these five foods can affect your children’s teeth long after childhood. Teach good food choices along with dental hygiene to not only protect your children’s teeth now, but to establish good habits that will last a lifetime.