Healthy Snacks for Healthy Smiles

As parents, we teach our kids the basic skills of dental hygiene: brushing twice a day and flossing once daily. But great dental care for kids goes beyond that. The secret to healthy teeth might just be in your childs lunch box.

There are many tasty snacks that will satisfy hungry kids while also promoting healthy teeth. Here are some tooth-friendly snacks and also ones that can cause dental problems.

Fresh Fruit: Apples, Sliced Melon, Fresh Berries
Chewing on apples and high-fiber fruits can scrub away bac- terial plaque. As a bonus, fruit is full of vitamins and an easy, nutritious snack.

Celery and Carrots
These crunchy vegetables contain a lot of water and fiber,
which balance the sugars and help clean teeth. These veggies also require a lot
of chewing, which can scrub tooth surfaces.

Milk, cheese, and yogurt are rich in calcium, casein, and phos- phorus, which can protect tooth enamel. Milk products can effectively neutralize the acids produced by bacteria in the mouth.

Nuts and Seeds
Nuts have dental benefits because most contain vitamin D and calcium. The crunch in your mouth stimulates saliva production and cleans your teeth.

For picky eaters, mixing snacks may improve acceptance:

  • Add a favorite dip to crunchy veggies.
  • Spread cream cheese or peanut butter on celery sticks.
  • Top apple slices with thinly sliced cheddar cheese.
  • Add fresh berries to low-fat yogurt.

Avoid Soda and Starchy Foods
Mouth bacteria feed on sugar and starch, turning them into acid, which destroys tooth enamel and causes decay. Acids and sugar in carbonated soft drinks combine to cause rapid tooth damage. Sweet and starchy foods like baked goods, and snacks like chips and pretzels also turn to acid, with the same damaging effects.

Reduce or Avoid Some Citrus Fruit and Juices
Most citrus fruits contain Vitamin C and nutrients, an essential part of a healthy diet. But grapefruit and lemons are highly acidic and can erode tooth enamel over time.

Say No to Chewy Candies and Dried Fruit
Taffy and caramels that stick to teeth are the most damaging and can dissolve tooth enamel. Many dried fruits are also sticky and contain high concentrations of sugar.

Wise food choices should be part of your child’s daily dental care. That, along with a balanced diet, flossing daily, brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, and regular dental checkups will reduce the risk of cavities. Then rest assured you’ve done your very best to take care of those little smiles that you love so much!

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