Many of us like to enjoy a little treat now and then—and some of us more often than that—but before you reach for those sugary confections, think about the impact that they might be having on your kids’ teeth. While you might not necessarily need to go completely cold-turkey and avoid all sugar forever, it is important to understand what kinds of treats might be bad for kids teeth and avoid them as much as possible.
Fruit Snacks and Gummies
Kids love fruit snacks, and since it says “fruit” in the name that means they must be healthy, right? Wrong. Most fruit snacks and gummies are loaded with sugar, and since they are sticky these treats can easily get stuck inside the crevices of your teeth where your toothbrush can’t reach. That will lead to decay and cavities, which are no fun for anyone.
In many households, kids consume sugary drinks several times a day. They might have some artificially sweetened orange juice or apple juice with their breakfast, a juice box at lunch, and a soda or sports drink when they get home from school and with dinner. Not only is this bad for your child’s waistline (the Center for Science in the Public Interest estimates that children consume all the added sugar they should have in a single day in drinks alone), it’s also bad for teeth. Sugar and sweetened drinks can cause enamel to decay and lead to cavities and other tooth pain. Try substituting water for soda and sports drinks, especially in between meals, for healthy kids’ teeth.
School might be back in session, but with a couple months of warm summer weather left in the year, you might still be tempted to indulge in ice cream as a treat to cool down. Unfortunately the high levels of sugar in ice cream can quickly deteriorate your child’s teeth, and the cold temperature can also cause pain and sensitivity. If you really must have some ice cream, go for sugar-free varieties an avoid adding things like caramel, chocolate sauce, or sticky toppings that will stay in your teeth.
Healthy Snack Alternatives
Rather than reaching for these sugar-loaded foods during and between meals, have some healthy options ready for munching that kids can easily grab when they get hungry. Some of the best options include:
- Sliced vegetables, such as carrot sticks, celery, bell peppers, and grape tomatoes
- Cheese cubes or string cheese that’s easy to grab and go
- Small fruits, such as apples, oranges, pears, and bananas
- Sugar-free lollipops or hard candy that will stimulate saliva production to help rinse teeth clean
- Water – add lemons, limes, cucumbers, or other flavoring for some variety
In addition to these healthy snack alternatives, make sure you are taking your children to a kids dentist in Salt Lake City for regular checkups to keep their smile sparkling and their teeth healthy year-round.