Serving patients of Erwin, Jonesborough, and Greeneville TN
Summer is here, school is out, and that means one thing for parents. Your kids are going to be on the lookout for snacks: all the snacks they can find, as often as they can get them. Satisfying your hungry kids is a big enough challenge, but do you want to compromise their dental health in the process? When choosing what snacks to keep on hand for your children, remember the old mantra that “you are what you eat.” To that end, your family dentists at Tusculum Dental Care would like to recommend some do’s and don’ts when it comes to snacks during summer break.
Stock up on these smile-friendly snacks
Choosing the right snacks to safeguard your kids’ teeth follows the same principles as just trying to maintain good nutrition. If you go for foods that have vitamins, minerals, and proteins, then chances are they won’t compromise your kids’ dental health, either. For example, raw fruits and vegetables are always a good nutritious snack option, and chewing crunchy treats, such as carrots, apples, or celery sticks, help to stimulate the flow of saliva, a natural means for your mouth to scrub away potential cavity-causing bacteria and food particles. Foods and drinks that are rich in calcium like milk and cheese are a good choice. Nuts are a great natural source of protein, and that crunch will, like raw fruits and vegetables, stimulate saliva production. Remember, when it comes to keeping your kids hydrated that water remains the best option. After all, water provides the best source of pure hydration while also having zero sugars or calories! Keep in mind, however, that while nutritious, healthy foods are good for the body and teeth, your kids still should brush twice a day and floss daily to help reduce their risk of cavities.
Supply sugary foods and drinks in moderation
Ask a kid what he or she considers to be the four basic food groups, and the answers may go something like this: chips, cookies, candy, and soda. Carb-loaded snacks, like chips and crackers, stick to your teeth, providing fuel for cavity-causing bacteria to thrive. Eating too much junk food is bad for your health at any age, and while it’s very common for children to have a serious sweet tooth, indulging in too many sugary foods and drinks can have serious consequences on their oral health. Remember that the bacteria that cause cavities multiply by converting leftover food particles into your mouth into sugar. If you are eating lots of sugar, then this process accelerates. The sugars are excreted as acids, which wear away tooth enamel, and can compromise the strength and stability of your kids’ teeth. Make sure to limit consumption of these sweet treats and drinks, even during summer vacation, by offering them as special “sometimes” snacks as opposed to daily options.
Follow these tips to protect your kids’ teeth throughout the summer
Remember, it takes approximately half an hour after eating for the saliva in your mouth to clear away food particles and neutralize any acids that are present. If your kids are constantly snacking, the saliva in their mouths doesn’t have time to do its intended job. Try to maintain a schedule of designated snack times, rather than let your kids indiscriminately graze throughout the day. This won’t be harmful once in a while, but constant snacking on a daily basis will have a negative impact. Also, make sure to practice good dental hygiene and encourage those same habits in your children.
Tusculum Dental Care offers comprehensive oral health care for every member of your family, from infants to senior citizens. If you’re needing advice on how to provide smile-friendly snacks for your kids this summer, or you are looking for a dentist to care for your children, give us a call at (423) 639-7575 if you live in Greeneville, Jonesborough, and Erwin in Tennessee.