Get Your Kids Dentist-Friendly!Jul 27, 2017
How hidden sugar affects your kids teeth and your wallet.
Recently, I had asked my friend why her son needed what seemed like the tenth filling in 3 months.
“I can’t understand it, actually, I make sure he brushes his teeth in the morning, after every meal and before he goes to sleep…limit the amount of sweets he gets in a week…and I’ve even secretly swapped any sodas he gets for diet soda! He can taste the difference though, and he fusses until I give him the real stuff. So I just stick to saying no sodas and I give him fruit juice instead.”
Aha, I thought.
Well, she got the sweets and sodas part right. It’s well known that the sugar in these foods feeds the mouth bacteria that breaks down tooth enamel, leading to the terrible dentist drill vibrating away to painfully remove the black and damaged parts. Ugh!
There were a few more points that I brought up with her after a more thorough look at her son’s eating habits, so that’s the inspiration for these tips to make sure your little one doesn’t need to visit the dentist more than twice a year.
We can immediately point at sugary breakfast cereals, sweets, chocolates, and sodas to say “These cause dental problems!”, but what about sugars found in so-called healthy foods?
Yes, granola bars, fortified cereals, and even packaged fruit juice are made with ingredients like honey, molasses, fruit concentrate, agave syrup and cane solids. These are all just another name for the dreaded ingredient sugar. They all contain sucrose and fructose, which is what sugar is made of, so they behave the same way in the mouth as more obvious sugars.
Look at the label before you pack these as tooth friendly alternatives for your kids. Even better, take a look at the foods below!
Before the word dentist…or even teeth…was known, we humans kept our teeth relatively healthy (but not Hollywood-smile-clean unfortunately) by consuming:
Fruits and vegetables are filled with fibre that clean the teeth and also keep the breakdown natural sugars much slower, to reduce its effect on mouth bacteria, They also stimulates the flow of saliva to reduce the general acidity of the mouth.
Water, both in food and drunk separately, to clean the mouth of any leftover food debris and reduces the mouth acidity.
That’s another reason to provide apple wedges, orange slices and carrot sticks to snack on, as well as an opportunity to dilute any sugary drinks with water (or sparkling water to fancy it up a bit!).
Sure, the mechanical brushing away of any food debris, combined with fluoride toothpaste, does help combat the dreaded tooth caries, but there is a need for moderation here too.
After eating most foods, the mouth is still in a sensitive acidic state brought on by mouth bacteria working away. Brushing immediately after a meal only helps speed up an otherwise slower wear and tear on the teeth at this stage.
I suggested that after-meal care should be limited to gargling the mouth with water to remove any food solids left behind, leaving the actual brushing to a good 15 minutes after eating.
Building Healthy Teeth
A diet filled with ready sources of calcium – dairy products, leafy greens, nuts and seeds – as well as Vitamin C (good old fruit and veggies again!) help build strong healthy teeth that can stand the acid attacks brought on each meal time.
I would recommend working them into your family’s lifestyle habits a few months before the next appointment at the dentist, as good things take time.
Watch your dentist bill creep down and your loved ones’ amazement at your child saying “Nothing to report except shiny healthy teeth!”