Summer is here and your growing children are home. If there’s one thing that parents hear multiple times a day, it’s, “There’s nothing to eat!” Of course, that doesn’t happen at mealtimes nearly so often as it does in between. The appetites of young people for snacks are insatiable, but snacks don’t have to pose a risk to your children’s smiles. Here are 5 tips to healthier summer snacks from Dr. Kory Wallin of Silver Leaf Dentistry of Longmont, CO.
1. Fresh is Best
It’s easy to raid the snack aisle in the grocery store, but that’s not the best option for your children’s dental health. Commercially produced snacks often contain far too much added sugar, salt, and fat. If you have access to a Farmer’s Market in your area, this is the time to introduce your kids to wonderful taste of fresh produce. Carrots, pea pods, celery, strawberries and other berries are all wonderful snacks that are both good and good for your children.
2. Watch the Acid
Check out the nutritional label of almost any soda and you’ll see some type of acid listed – phosphoric acid, citric acid, and so on. While there’s no doubt that these acids add to the overall taste of the sodas, they can also wreak havoc on the enamel that surrounds and protects your children’s teeth. That happens through a process called demineralization. That’s not to say that your children can’t have any soda, but strictly limiting soda consumption lowers their risk of developing cavities.
3. Avoid Snacks that Coat Teeth
There are whole colonies of bacteria in everyone’s mouth. That’s normal, natural, and certainly nothing to be alarmed about. But some of those bacteria feed on the sugars in our foods and drinks to create a thin, sticky film called dental plaque. Plaque forms on the gumline around the teeth. The bacteria in the plaque secrete acids that attacks enamel and irritates the gums. Snack foods that coat the teeth – candy and dried fruit, for instance – prevent saliva and beverages from washing bacteria off the teeth, allowing plaque to form.
4. Limit Sugar
For the reasons stated above, excess sugar consumption in any form is a recipe for dental problems. It may be tempting to let the kids snack on cereal, but kids cereals have huge amounts of sugar. And it’s not just one snack that counts – it’s the frequency of high-sugar products that causes the most problems. Limit sugar wherever possible for the sake of your kids’ smiles.
5. Stay Hydrated
Summertime is generally hot, and with hot weather comes the chance of dehydration. That’s not only hard on your children’s bodies, it can be hard on their teeth as well. When the body is dehydrated, saliva production decreases. Bacteria have a greater chance to take up residence around your children’s teeth. If you need proof, you should know that numerous studies show that people with chronic dry mouth have a much higher rate of cavities and gum disease. Make sure your children drink enough and often enough during the summer.
Don’t Forget The Cleanings And Examinations
Summer may be the best time to for your children to have a dental cleaning and examination. It’s important to their dental health to keep those appointments as recommended to detect and prevent problems with their teeth and gums.