As a parent, you have to make countless decisions about what’s in your child’s best interest. Should they eat a gluten-free diet? Are they getting too much screen time? What about sleep training? Although the right choice isn’t always cut-and-dry, there’s one piece of advice you can feel certain of: Good dietary choices for kids are crucial for keeping their smiles healthy. With the right guidelines, you can minimize the work they need from a children’s dentist in Helena and set them up for a lifetime of great dental health. Learn more below!
The Impact of Sugar
These days, sugar is in everything – even in foods that you wouldn’t suspect like yogurt, crackers, and breakfast cereal. In addition to being a major contributor to childhood obesity and diabetes, high sugar consumption greatly increases the risk for cavities. And to complicate matters even further, modern life is so busy that it’s often easier to reach for sugary snacks and drinks out of convenience.
Unfortunately, each time a child consumes something with sugar or carbohydrates, the bacteria in their mouth produce acid that wears away their enamel, much like acid rain wears away at marble or stone over time. When sugar is consumed too much or too often (or both), the risk of cavities is very high.
Dietary Guidelines For Cavity Prevention
The good news? Childhood cavities are 100% preventable. In addition to regular checkups with a children’s dentist in Helena and good oral hygiene habits, use the following tips to minimize the impact of sugar on your child’s teeth:
- Pay attention to timing – Sure, the total amount of sugar consumed is important, but how frequently your child consumes it is equally important. Sweet foods and drinks should normally be given with meals instead of as a snack. A helpful phrase to remember is “Sip all day, get decay” as a reminder not to sip or graze throughout the day.
- Go for smart snacking – There are plenty of low or no-sugar snacks to choose from that your child can enjoy: nuts, veggies with guacamole or peanut butter, cheese, plain (sugar-free) yogurt, popcorn, deviled eggs, spinach dip with veggies, and lunch meat and cheese roll-ups.
- Avoid sticky or “gummy” treats – Any type of snack or treat that’s likely to stick to your child’s teeth is especially harmful (e.g. fruit roll-ups, gummy candies, taffy, etc.) If your child occasionally has these treats, be sure to brush their teeth as soon as possible afterward.
- Read labels – Since sugar has snuck into so many foods, be sure to look at the sugar content on labels and primarily choose whole foods. In particular, be aware of sugary items that seem healthy such as dried fruit or juice.
Every child needs a healthy smile for their quality of life and a good diet is a big part of that. With these guidelines, you can prevent childhood cavities from the very beginning!
About the Author
Dr. Matthew Coplin is a children’s dentist in Helena with nearly 20 years of experience and a graduate of the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. He and his team understand the power of prevention and always try to help their patients minimize major dental work as much as possible. If you have any questions about your child’s oral health, he can be contacted via his website.