Healthy Snacks, Healthy Teeth

 

“My kid won’t eat anything at mealtime, so I have to give him snacks all the time, is that bad for his teeth?”

Hi, I’m Doctor Chuck.  I have been a father longer than I have been a pediatric dentist and I know the struggles we all face when it comes time to get ready to get out of the house in time for church or calm down enough at night to get everybody in pj’s and bed within an hour.  It never gets any easier at the dinner table trying to coax our kiddos into eating just one more bite.  So, when we cannot get them to eat enough, what are the effects of apple sauce pouches, cups with goldfish, and sippies with juice on their teeth?  As a pediatric dentist, this is such a common question that we get from parents.  As we begin to identify the links between health and dentistry, we start to identify some issues that need to be navigated as we provide for our children.  

What are the chances that a grazing diet of healthy food is detrimental to our teeth?  

In 1943 a researcher, Robert Stephan, was way ahead of his time.  I am sure he couldn’t see the modern challenges we face with nutrition and our kids but he published some interesting research to help understand the effects of frequent snacking.  He said, for a period of 20-30 minutes after we eat sucrose or high fructose corn syrup our teeth are in grave danger of forming cavities as our mouths become more acidic. Luckily after 20-30 mins, our saliva begins to buffer itself (become less acidic) back to bring us into a safe zone that does not form cavities as easily.  So essentially constant snacking to keep our kids growing and happy does hold some drawbacks.  How do we balance this issue?  

The best things we can do are choose healthy whole food snacks, brushing, and flossing. 

We need to be practical; snacks keep kids happy and therefore parents happy. Choosing healthier options of foods that have not had things processed into them does not make our mouths as acidic when eaten.  Lastly, proper oral hygiene is always the solution. Quality twice-daily brushing and once-daily flossing will keep our mouths happy and cavity-free.  We got this!!


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