Sometimes, it’s obvious what kinds of foods are bad for your little one and their teeth. However, some of the worst cavity-causing culprits may surprise you. Even though cavities can be treated with tooth colored fillings in our Las Vegas office, it’s best to prevent them altogether.
Regular cleanings and practicing good oral health will go a long way towards preventing cavities, but your child’s diet is another major contributor to their oral health.
To help your child keep their teeth at their healthiest, provide them with smart snack choices. Wondering which foods to avoid? Here’s our list of common foods that cause cavities.
When you think of foods that cause cavities, soda is probably on the top of that list. Soda is bad for your child’s health in almost every way, and that includes oral health. Soda is loaded with sugar, and when that sugar gets on your child’s teeth, it provides food for the bad bacteria in their mouths. Using the sugar, the bacteria creates acid which in turn results in cavities
Even sugar-free soda isn’t safe for your teeth. Like regular soda, diet and sugar-free sodas still contain citric and phosphoric acids to provide carbonation, and this makes them very acidic. Acidic drinks like soda can actually wear down the enamel on your child’s teeth, which can lead to cavities and tooth decay. Weakened enamel can also lead to other issues like sensitivity and discoloration.
What to drink instead: Water is always the best choice for your child’s health. Since milk is much more basic than soda, dairy can be an alternative option as well.
Often, parents think that fruit juices are a healthier alternative to soda. While fruit juices are often not as acidic as soda, they often contain just as much sugar as soda. Fruit juices lose a lot of their nutritional value when extracted from the pure fruit, and so you are left with essentially sugar and water with none of the healthy fiber from fresh fruit.
What to drink instead: Unsweetened teas or water. If your child wants to have fruit juice occasionally, have them drink it through a straw to help minimize contact with teeth, and have them brush their teeth soon afterward.
Starches aren’t associated with foods that cause cavities in the way that sugary candies are, but they can wreak just as much havoc. Snacks like potato chips and crackers that are made from refined carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars in the mouth. Since these foods get soft when chewed, they can stick to crevices in your child’s teeth. Then when they break down into sugars, they become a feast for cavity-causing bacteria.
What to eat instead: Dairy-based snacks are a filling and healthy alternative to starchy snacks. Plus, they’re high in calcium to support strong teeth and bones. Pack snack-size yogurts or string cheese for your child’s snacks.
Fruits Packed in Syrup
Fresh fruit naturally contains a significant amount of sugar. When fruit is canned with syrup, it adds a lot of sugar to an already sugary food. All of that extra sugar just means more food for the cavity-causing bacteria in your child’s mouth. The thick syrup also coats your child’s teeth as they eat, which exposes the teeth to the sugar more readily than regular fruit.
What to eat instead: Ditch the syrup-covered options for fresh fruit. If you have to buy prepared fruit, look for ones canned in their own juice to minimize added sugar.
Sandwiches tend to be a staple part of packed lunches for children, but bread is actually another sneaky food that causes cavities. Like starchy snacks, bread turns gummy when chewed and easily gets stuck in teeth. Since white bread is a refined carbohydrate, it’s easily broken down into dangerous sugars that linger in the mouth.
What to eat instead: Instead of white bread, always choose whole wheat, multigrain bread. These types of bread contain less added sugar. They also don’t break down in the mouth as easily as white bread.
Sticky Fruit Snacks
The problem with sticky foods is in the name: they’re sticky, which means that they lodge themselves in all the nooks and crannies of your child’s teeth. Any food that lingers in your mouth can contribute to cavity formation, but sticky fruit snacks and candies are especially notorious because they’re high in sugar. As stated earlier, that sugar fuels cavity-causing bacteria.
What to eat instead: Instead of fruit-flavored chewy snacks, give your child the real thing. Fresh fruits still contain sugar, but they’re also high in fiber. Fiber actually stimulates saliva production, and this helps protects teeth against cavities.
You never expect real fruits to show up on a list of foods that cause cavities, yet here they are. Citrus fruits like lemons, limes, and oranges are highly acidic, and this acid can erode tooth enamel.
What to eat instead: While it’s true that citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C, you can choose other fruits that are just as nutritious but much less acidic. Cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon, and bananas are all great sources of vitamin C without being harsh on your child’s teeth.
Feeding your child the right snacks is a great way to keep their teeth healthy, but it’s not the only thing you should do. Schedule regular preventative care appointments so that your child’s teeth get professionally cleaned and cared for by our dentists. Combined with their tooth-healthy diet, this will set your child up for a cavity-free smile.
If your child does develop a cavity, the dentists at Children’s Dentistry can treat it with tooth colored fillings at our Las Vegas offices. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.