How many times a day do you hear the words ‘I’m soooo hungry’ from your kids? We think it’s the most commonly used sentence in the English language.
But what do you feed a kid that’s a) constantly hungry and b) needs to look after their teeth for a really long time?
Here are our thoughts.
Sweet and acidic foods cause tooth decay
There. We said it. There’s no way around it unfortunately. The foods you choose affects the health of your mouth and gums (and other parts of the body, but we’re not experts in that).
The good news is that until the multiple kids’ parties kicks in, the food your child eats and when they eat it will be mostly chosen by you, so it’s worth being aware of the effect different foods have on your kid’s mouth.
Don’t let your kids eat so often
I know you’re inwardly laughing at this one because some kids can eat all day, right?
If you can reduce the number of times they’re eating though, you give the teeth chance for a little self-clean. Obviously you want to stick to the three main meals, but snacking continuously between meals will mean that teeth are constantly covered in acid and sugars that cause the nasty damage.
Ideally we want food off the teeth as soon as possible. Sticking to eating three to five times a day gives your teeth a little breather and lets the saliva and water wash away the nasty bacteria between food.
The dreaded ‘snacks’
I’m not mentioning names but I know of one little boy (eh-hem), who now declares he’s not hungry for food, he’s hungry for ‘snacks’. I kid you not!
And that’s because snacks usually are sugar-filled fun treats and yes, they do taste great.
For Dentists though, snacks are the real danger zone. They contain lots of hidden sugars and are easily popped into snack boxes without realising what’s in them.
Here are some foods to avoid or keep to a minimum:
- Fruit juice, cordial, flavoured milk, soft drinks and sports drinks. Basically, just stick to water. (Bonus: it’s free).
- Dried fruit, such as apricots and sultanas
- Fruit bars and muesli bars. Don’t be fooled by those healthy-looking nuts.
- Biscuits and cake. Special occasions exempt of course.
- Lollies. Eek. These are the devils work for Dentists. All that sugar sitting on the teeth for so long. And how do kids take so long to eat them?? Avoid if possible.
Anything sticky = double the trouble
Steer clear of foods that stick to teeth, for example toffee popcorn or sticky lollies that get stuck in between teeth and hard to remove.
Anything that stays on your teeth can cause damage to them, so you go for foods that can be easily chewed and swallowed leaving your teeth surfaces clear. So for example, you might want to choose plain popcorn instead of toffee popcorn.
This is a good one to remember if you’re planning a long journey where you won’t be able to clean your teeth for a while.
Fruit should come with its own warning
OK, we’re being a little dramatic here but we do think fruit should come with a red siren on top of it. It’s guilty of two major sins: being sweet and acidic – the two no-no’s for happy teeth.
The best time to eat fruit is with a meal or in one sitting, not grazing on it all day.
If your kid enjoys munching fruit then make sure they wash it down with a little portion of cheese to neutralise the acid and/or a glass of water.
We know that fruit is healthy and contains lots of great nutrients, but try to keep it to a limit.
Fruits we like include apples, as they’re full of fibre and are crunchy, so they can scrub the plaque away, and the occasional strawberry as they’re high in Vitamin C which is great for gum health.
Ahh, these are the foods we love to see in snack boxes across Gippsland. Here’s our happy list:
- Cut-up vegetables with dips. Those crunchy carrots are a dream for us.
- Little blobs of acid-naturalising cheese. Or just ‘cheese’ to you and me.
- Peanut butter, vegemite and butter
- Plain crackers or rice cakes
- Pieces of ham, turkey or salmon
- Portions of zucchini slice
It’s not about how much, it’s about how often
As we mentioned above, when it comes to teeth the key is to get that food in and off the teeth as soon as possible (but please chew properly!). If kids are snacking all day every day, teeth are always covered in acidic yuckiness so give them a break from eating every now and then.
Our final top tips are:
- Keep eating times to a minimum, don’t graze all day
- Keep rinsing teeth with water
- Brush twice a day
- No eating after the last brush of the day, otherwise the teeth are covered in sugar all night!
- Spit out the toothpaste but NO RINSING. Teeth need the toothpaste.
- Avoid lollies, sugary drinks and keep treats to a minimum.
Want to know more?
If you’d like to hear more from our Little Smiles team at Warragul Dental Care you can always call us for an appointment on 5623 5588 or swing by 49 Victoria Street, Warragul for a little yarn.
If you think this was helpful then we’d love you to share the word and help look after little teeth the world over!