Okay, so there are many challenges families are facing whilst we all navigate this new way of living in close proximity without the usual escape routes of school, day care, work and socialising. My own kids are older now, so at least I am able to work from home knowing that they will be occupied being schooled online. They are at an age where they are prepared to sit still and listen. I struggle to know how I would be managing to do my job if they were younger, so I really feel for all parents in that situation.
What might be tempting is to sit them in front of the TV watching their latest favourite film with a hoard of sweet stuff to keep them entertained. Or kids may just end up eating lots of sweets and biscuits to relieve the boredom of confinement. However, sugary food and drinks are one of the main causes of tooth decay. Acid is produced when the bacteria in your mouth break down the sugar. The acid dissolves the tooth surface, which is the first stage of tooth decay and this can affect overall general health.
Research has shown that there is nothing wrong with children snacking throughout the day. In fact, it can help boost their metabolism and provide the nutrition their growing bodies need. That is, provided the snacks are healthy, low fat and low sugar i.e. not sweets, crisps and whatever else they reach for in the cupboard. Encouraging your children to eat healthy snacks isn’t as difficult as it sounds; you just have to make them look appealing and taste good.
Most children will eat a bowl of fruit or veggies if it is colourful and has some sort of low-fat dip to go with it. With that being said, let’s take a look at some healthy snacks that are good for your children’s teeth and that they will want to reach for next time they are hungry.
Snacks That Are Tooth Friendly:
- Leafy Greens – leafy greens provide a wide range of nutrients that are good for you. Kale, spinach and other greens are high in folic acid and B vitamins that promote tooth health and can help prevent gum disease
- Apples – for a sweet snack, apples are very good for your teeth. Although apples are highly acidic, the natural sugars contained within apples actually help neutralise harmful acids in the mouth. Eating an apple causes your mouth to salivate and the additional saliva rinses away any bacteria and food particles in your mouth keeping your teeth healthy
- Carrots and celery – full of vitamins and high in fiber, carrots and celery also cause you to salivate more and the additional saliva is beneficial for tooth and gum health
- Cheese – children love cheese and it provides some much needed calcium that is good for their teeth and bones. Cheese also raises the pH in your mouth which help lowers the risk of tooth decay
And what if they have had a sugar overload?
Once you’ve dealt with the resulting sugar highs and lows, how do you limit damage to their teeth?
- Stop the sugary intake at least an hour before they brush their teeth and go to sleep
- Whilst it may seem to make sense to brush straight after eating sugar, try to avoid this
- Since the acid formed when sugar meets the bacteria in dental plaque weakens the enamel (top surface of the teeth) of a child’s teeth, brushing straight away can cause even more damage because you’d be brushing away the weakened surface. Give their teeth time to recover before brushing
- Ensure they use a fluoride toothpaste right before they go to sleep. See why fluoride really does offer the best protection here
- Provide still water and milk to drink and rinse around their mouths straight after sugary snacks to reduce the amount of sugar attacking their teeth • It may go against what we parents were taught, but latest thinking is that it’s best not to rinse after brushing to allow the fluoride in toothpaste to do its job