Summertime is here and your kids are probably on the go most of the day. Active kids are hungry kids and meal planning for busy families can be a challenge. Whether your days are full of soccer practices, afternoon picnics, family vacations, or any number of other fun summer activities, it’s important to make sure to keep plenty of nutritious snacks on hand.
As a parent, you want to keep your children healthy and strong. One of the best ways to do this is by providing your kids with well-balanced meals and snacks. Not only is this a great way to help them develop healthy eating habits, but it is also a beneficial way to help prevent tooth decay. Since sugary foods and drinks increase the production of acid in the mouth which can weaken tooth enamel, these snacks should be limited. Sticky or chewy snacks – such as dried fruit and gooey candy – should also be limited. Sticky foods may remain on the teeth longer which can lead to a greater chance of tooth decay. Instead, offer up crunchy fruits, raw vegetables, or cheese for between-meal snacks. These foods are not only nutritious, but they are less likely to promote tooth decay.
Summertime is a great time for bike riding, swimming, camping, playing sports, or just running around the neighborhood – and active children often like to re-fuel with sugary sports drinks. While some sports drinks may be beneficial and hydrating, frequent sipping of a sugary drink can increase the chances of tooth decay. The sugar combines with bacteria in the mouth forming acid which attacks the tooth enamel. These acid attacks last for about 20 minutes and begin again with every sip. To help lower the chances of tooth decay, sugary soda pop and sports drinks should be limited and not consumed throughout the day. It also may be beneficial to water down sports drinks or to have your kids chew sugarless gun after drinking sugary drinks.
A great way to encourage healthy eating habits and healthy snacking is to offer a variety of nutritious foods at mealtime. Introduce children to many different types of healthy foods and drinks at an early age, and prepare meals with items from all of the food groups. Getting your kids involved in meal planning and preparation can also be a great way to introduce them to foods that are good for them and habits that can last a lifetime.
Eating nutritious food and limiting sugary snacks are great ways to help keep your children and their teeth healthy and strong. Other ways to help ensure your children’s smiles stay bright is by having them brush their teeth at least twice a day, floss regularly and visit their pediatric dentist biannually.
And as Dr. Cobb always says: good oral hygiene habits, combined with healthy food choices and bi-annual checkups, are the best ways to prevent tooth decay.