Eating a healthy and balanced diet is vital to oral health developing in children. Choosing foods that are low in sugars, salt (sodium), and bad (saturated) fats is important. However, parents are often fooled by marketing and advertising schemes that make them believe they are making a healthy choice for their child but actually are not.
For instance, one of the biggest health-food misconceptions is in regards to gummy fruit snacks and fruit roll-up snacks. While advertising and labels might state they are made with “real fruit juice,” in most cases, the amount of actual natural fruit juice is misleading. Rather, it is more common to use artificial fruit flavoring. In addition, the amount of sugar in these snacks is often more than that found in a candy bar!
Furthermore, the stickiness of these types of treats causes it to remain on the teeth for a longer period of time, leading to an excess amount of sugar left on the teeth. Sugar helps contribute towards tooth decay and the development of plaque – the clear sticky substance which forms on the teeth and destroys the protective enamel layer. Even all-natural dried fruits, like apricots and raisins, can increase the risks of tooth decay because they stick to the teeth and allow plaque to form.
Another food parents sometimes give their children in place of sweets are crackers. Again, parents think they are making a good decision in place of a sugary snack. Plus, what kid does not like eating cheese flavored crackers in the shapes of fish and other animals. Yet, crackers tend to contain high amounts of sodium, plus they are high in carbohydrates, which the body naturally converts into sugars. Not to mention also easily can stick to the teeth and cause tooth decay as the carbs are being converted into sugar.
What Parents Need to Know about Sugar
Sugar, corn syrup, and other such sweet ingredients are not good for the teeth. The bacteria in the mouth love sugar even more than your child does. It thrives on the sugar to create acid found in plaque which destroys the protective enamel layer on the outside of the tooth. Once there are cracks in this layer, it is only a matter of time before the bacteria slowly creates small holes in the teeth, which turn into cavities.
Parents should monitor the amount of sugar their child consumes each day and try to limit this to around 12 grams for younger children and no more than 50 grams for tweens and teens. The easiest way to do this is by reading the labels on foods to see out how much sugar they contain. Equally important is to look at the recommended serving size on most labels. One way to make sure you are eating the right portion size is to measure it out.
Lastly, parents should try to set an example for their children by following a healthy diet, brushing and flossing twice a day, and visiting their dentist regularly. To schedule an appointment with one of our family dentists for your child or the entire family, please feel free to contact Kennedy Square Dental at (905) 789-7339 today!