You’ve probably heard that sugar isn’t good for your child’s teeth. However, there’s more to the story than that. Forensic evidence has found that tooth decay was actually relatively uncommon among ancient man. This is largely due to the diet. It wasn’t until the Victorian era, when our diets changed to refined starches and sugars, when tooth decay became so widespread that today, we consider it a given.
Farbeit from us to tell you to cut sugars out of your diet entirely, but there are many tooth-smart measures that you can take in your child’s diet to support dental health. Here are some ideas:
1: Cut Back on Sticky, Hard, and Sour Sweets
There are bad sweets, and then there are worse sweets. For example, a hard candy that you continually suck on over minutes forces your teeth to be in continuous contact with sugar. On the other hand, a piece of chocolate is quickly eaten and then cleared out.
The most damaging sweets to your dental health are sticky, and hard, because they stay on your teeth for longer. Sour candies can also be problematic because the acid directly attacks your teeth. This acid attack can deteriorate your protective enamel, contributing to tooth sensitivity.
2: Eliminate or Minimize Soda
Speaking of acid attacks, take a look at your soda consumption. Soda is rich with acids that hurt your teeth. In addition, the sugar helps harmful bacteria in your mouth to thrive, and many brown sodas like Coke and Pepsi can also contribute to staining.
3: Drink More Water
Instead of soda, opt for water whenever possible. Water assists in saliva’s special job of clearing out the mouth and rebalancing the pH levels that protect your tooth enamel. Water can even help after you’ve eaten sweets or soda, minimizing the damage done by each.
4: Eat “Tooth-Scrubbing” Snacks
There are also helpful foods that you can eat in order to keep your teeth healthy. Crisp, fresh fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, or celery can all help with the job of scrubbing your teeth and encouraging protective saliva. In fact, if you can finish up a meal with a stick or two of celery, it’s almost as good as brushing your teeth (but not quite as good… you should still brush!)
5: Watch Your Starches (Including Crackers!)
We often mistakenly believe that candy is the only harmful food for our teeth. However, even relatively healthy foods can be harmful. Sugar is a carbohydrate, which is why it can cause decay. Other carbohydrates, especially refined starches, can also contribute to tooth decay.
For this reason, beware of crackers, cookies, and even bread that tends to stick to your teeth.