You know how to keep your kids from developing cavities – brush their teeth, take them to the dentist regularly, and keep the sweets and sugary drinks to a minimum. But while those are all good ways to keep your child's teeth healthy, there's more that you can be doing. Instead of just avoiding cavity-causing food, like candy, you can also be proactive by choosing food that helps to fight cavities. Check out some cavity-fighting snacks your kids will love.
Cheese cubes or slices make a great snack by themselves, and they also pair nicely with fruit or raw vegetables. Cheese probably seems like an obvious choice – you already know your child needs the calcium to help them develop strong bones and teeth. However, cheese is more helpful than you know, and may do more to prevent cavities than other dairy foods.
That's because cheese increases the pH level in the mouth. A pH level below 5.5 puts you at risk of tooth erosion, and the higher the pH level, the lower the cavity risk. When researchers tested the dental plaque pH of subjects who consumed various dairy products and a control substance, the control group and those who were given yogurt and milk had no major changes in their pH levels. But the group that got cheese saw pH level increases at 10, 20, and 30 minutes after consumption, suggesting that cheese is actually an effective cavity fighter.
Unlike cheese, raisins may seem like a bad idea at first. They're small and sticky, which means they're prone to get stuck on or between the teeth. They're also sweet, and everyone knows that sugar leads to tooth decay.
However, it turns out that raisins contain a secret ingredient. The sweet snacks contain various phytochemicals that are known to stop the growth of some types of bacteria that grow in the mouth. And some of the bacteria affected by these phytochemicals are the types of bacteria that cause cavities. Some ants on a log (peanut butter and raisins on celery) or just a handful of raisins can make a tooth-healthy snack for a little one who's craving something sweet.
Crunchy Fruits and Veggies
Foods that are firm, crunchy, and full of water are good for the teeth for two reasons. For one, they stimulate the production of saliva. Saliva helps protect the teeth by washing away bits of food that would otherwise remain on the teeth, and it also contains enzymes that help neutralize the acids in food. Crunchy foods can also have a mild scrubbing effect on the teeth themselves, which can help get rid of stubborn particles or plaque.
There are lots of firm, crunchy, water-heavy fruits and vegetables that make great snacks for kids. Apples are a kid favorite, but pineapple pieces are a good choice as well – the bromelain in pineapples is a natural stain remover. Carrot sticks and celery are fun to dip or eat alone, and in addition to being crunchy, carrots contain vitamin A, a necessary ingredient for healthy teeth. Broccoli is another good choice for kids who enjoy it – the iron in the broccoli helps the mouth resist acids that can hasten tooth decay.
Instead of just avoiding harmful foods, go out of your way to find foods that your child enjoys that will actually help their teeth. This is a great way to establish tooth-healthy eating habits from an early age. For more advice on promoting your child's oral health, contact your pediatric dentist.