Are Some Apparently ‘Unhealthy’ Foods A Better Option For Your Child’s Teeth?
Are all ‘junk’ foods a problem for teeth?
Autumn is here, which means cosy jumpers, beautiful walks through frost crisped fields, and of course, plenty of comfort food.
We love our comfort food, and here at Abbey Road Dental in NW8, we get lots of questions from worried parents about which foods are best for their child’s oral health. With so many conflicting labels and adverts saying different things, it’s no surprise that parents are confused.
For this reason we thought it would be a great idea to provide some tips on foods sometimes considered as ‘junk’ and whether or not they are actually harmful for a child’s teeth. It is important to note that with sugar consumption in relation to oral health alone, the main issue is how long the sugars from the food or drink remain in the mouth, not how much sugar has been consumed at any one time.
So whether your child has orange juice with a healthy meal, or a bowl of ice cream, is nearly irrelevant, because both foods with expose the teeth to sugar for around an hour after consumption. So the most important thing to remember is to limit the amount of sugar consumed in general, and to try to limit sugar consumption to meal times alone.
Here are our tips on which foods, sometimes perceived as ‘unhealthy’, can actually be a better option for children’s teeth:
Although it’s not recommended for anyone to consume a significant amount of any chocolate, dark chocolate is by far the best option. The dark chocolate can help brighten teeth with the tannins in the cacao contributing to the prevention of bacteria sticking to the teeth.
Salted or sweetened popcorn is unhealthy, but plain popcorn without hulls can be really good for the teeth. Some flavourings like nutritional yeast which gives food a cheesy taste, can be added to keep the popcorn tasty whilst also providing your child with added benefits. The calcium phosphorus in popcorn delivers minerals and the popcorn itself encourages chewing and increased saliva production. Adding a flavouring like nutritional yeast also enables your child to get a healthy dose of vitamin B12 which is vital for cognitive function.
Sugar Free Sweets
Sugar free sweets stimulate saliva production which prevents dry mouth (a leading cause of bad breath). Saliva is also your bodies natural defence for any ‘nasties’ in the mouth that contribute to tooth decay.
Any food containing calcium will have benefits for your child’s teeth, as long as the treat is not laden with sugar. Stick to snacks with dairy high up on the ingredients list, and that are as natural as possible, such as yogurt coated raisins. Childrens yogurts are often thought to be healthy options for children, however they are often full of sugar. Avoid sweetened yogurts and opt for plain yogurt for your child, flavouring it with chopped fruit, nuts and seeds.
So there are some foods which might generally be considered unhealthy, but which do provide some benefits. As a general rule moderation is best, ensuring your child enjoys a healthy diet with minimal amounts of sugar. As excellent as your child’s oral health regime might be, if your child’s teeth are exposed to high levels of sugar regularly it will have an affect on their teeth.
Healthy Snack Ideas
Here are some healthy snack ideas for your child which are tasty and good for their teeth:
Fresh Fruits And Raw Vegetable sticks – Try making colourful veggie sticks and fruit sticks, your child will love how vibrant they look and enjoy the different textures
Cheese Sticks – Dairy contains lots of calcium which is great for growing teeth, try to avoid products like stringy cheese which are heavily processed
Raw Nuts And Seeds – Packed with vitamins, minerals and proteins these snacks are tasty ways to give your child lots of nutritional benefits and bags of energy
Need Further Advice On Your Child’s Oral Health? Visit Us At Abbey Road Dental
If you would like more advice on your child’s oral health, or you want to bring them in for a checkup with the family friendly dentist in St John’s Wood, please give us a call on 02076241603 and we will be more than happy to book you an appointment.