At Playhouse Dental we are committed to partnering with you to support healthy nutritional choices for you and your family. You may be surprised to learn that:
- Food does not cause tooth decay, eating does. Your child’s dental health depends less on what they eat and more on how often they eat it.
- About 90 percent of all foods contain sugars or starches that enable bacteria (“sugar bugs”) in dental plaque to produce acids. This attack by bacterial acid, lasting 20 minutes or more, can lead to loss of tooth mineral and to cavities.
Liquid Candy: Research has shown that those children who routinely drink sweetened beverages (juice, soda pop, energy drinks, Gatorade, sweet tea, lemonade, and chocolate milk), will have a higher rate of cavities than those children who drink primarily milk and water. Sweet drinks create a “sweet tooth” habit that is hard to break in your child. It can make them hyperactive, and less interested in eating “real food.” Talk to us about strategies for breaking this habit in your home.
A New York Times article lends support to the dangers of sugary drinks contributing to obesity in children.
FACTS ON FOOD
If your child has a poor diet, their teeth may not develop properly. Children need protein, vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and phosphorous, to build strong teeth and resist tooth decay and gum disease.
What are healthy meals and snacks? A great place to start understanding sound nutrition for teeth and bodies can be found at: “My Plate” by the US Department of Agriculture. Healthy snacks should be served no more than three times a day, and should contribute to the overall nutrition and development of your child. Some healthy snacks are cheese, vegetables, yogurt, and peanut butter. Check out this cool video: Snack Smart with Chef Lena.
Are all sugars the same? Yes and no. Sugars can be either natural or processed (honey vs. white sugar) but “sugar bugs” (bacteria) in the mouth love them all and happily use them to make holes in your child’s teeth.
Cooked starches such as breads, crackers, pasta, pretzels and potato chips can lead to cavities just as sugars can. Often they take longer to clear the mouth than sugars. So if your teeth feel furry or fuzzy after eating, the decay risk may last even longer. Brush often and drink lots of water!
Frequency is key! If your child licks a piece of hard candy every few minutes to make it last longer, or slowly sips a sweet drink while studying, or snacks while watching tv, they are flirting with a high risk of tooth decay. Such long-lasting snacks create an acid attack on teeth for the entire time they are in the mouth. This is why “snackers and grazers” have more cavities than children who eat quickly and less often.
TIPS FOR PARENTS: DIET AND DENTAL HEALTH
- 1. Ask one of us at Playhouse Dental to help you assess your child’s diet. You might want to check in with Elmo, too.
2. Provide a balanced diet and save foods with sugar or starch for meal times.
3. Limit the number of snack times. Choose nutritious snacks.
4. Shop smart. Do not routinely stock your pantry with sugary or starchy snacks. Buy “fun foods” just for special times.
5. Do not put your young child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula or juice.
6. If your child chews gum or sips soda, select products that are sugar-free. Recent evidence suggests the use of xylitol chewing gum can decrease a child’s caries rate.