A Sweet Tooth and the Not-so-sweet Truth
Still wading through your Halloween candy in your house? I, like many other parents, try and limit my child to one piece a day. (We won’t talk about my limit.) And I also attempt,though it doesn’s always work, get him to brush his teeth afterwards.
Too much sugar or “sweet” foods are the obvious things we as parents steer our child away from for the sake of dental health. But it is other foods that may cause equal or worse damage to our teeth that many don’t know about.
The number one item I often see parents offer their kids as a “healthier” choice is citrus based foods and beverages. Drinking lemonade in place of a soda may seem to be a better choice than a soda or high sugar drink, but for dental health reasons, it can be just as damaging. Highly acidic foods left on the teeth can wear away dental enamel, allowing them to be more open to bacteria and decay. Sipping for a long period of time is even more damaging as it is a constant stream of the acid contained in these food and beverages. And, strangely enough, brushing right after drinking one of these beverages may wash away more enamel. So what to do? Remineralize your teeth by drinking some milk or eating some cheese. For the kids, add some cheese to your child’s lunch or a glass of milk.
High sugar foods such as candy and juice can drop the pH level of the mouth, causing the bacteria that leads to tooth decay and high acid foods and beverages can do the same thing. Sodas and other beverages with sugar or with artificial sweeteners can cause damage to your teeth as well due to the acid they contain. Best choice of beverages for those who “sip” all day long is water!
Foods such as potato chips, crackers, and cereal are also foods that may seem relatively harmless compared to candy and cookies. However, they can stick to the teeth and cause even more damage than something that washes away with whatever beverage you may be drinking.
Foods that are good for the teeth? Fruits such as apples and vegetables like celery are high in fiber and “scrub” the teeth with no residual to cause bacterial breakdown. Dairy products like cheese, milk and yogurt are also great choices to round out your meal and add a protective effect until you can brush. I always wondered why a woman I work with finished her lunch with cheese-she is married to a dentist-and now it makes sense!
Laura Zurita is a registered dietitian and Montgomery County mom to a 6 going on 7 year old. Her and her family enjoy reading, exploring bookstores and hiking as well as waiting for the next baseball season.