What should kids be eating for healthy teeth (and what to avoid)
Dr Shaun Thompson of Expat Dental knows how important a healthy diet is to keep tooth decay at bay. As a father of two young girls, he knows it is increasingly difficult for busy parents to find convenience foods and snacks that minimise the risk of damage to young teeth.
Besides the obvious sugar in sticky candy as the main cause of decay there are other less obvious foods to try to avoid.
- Fruit juices and other fruit based snacks like dried fruit contain acid which eats way at the enamel on young teeth. Instead munch on fibre-rich fruits and veges like apples, peas, carrots or celery. The chewing stimulates saliva production which helps wash away acid.
- Starchy and refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta or plain crackers stick to your teeth and break down into simple sugars. Eat these foods in one sitting and then rinse the mouth with water after eating. Brush around 30 minutes later.
- Isotonic and sports drinks contain more acid that soft drinks and even elite athletes aren’t immune to decay from regular consumption. Avoid these, drink milk or calcium fortified milk substitutes like soy milk and hydrate with plain water.
- Foods in vinegar like dill pickles contain high levels of acid and wear enamel out quickly. Instead try snacking on whole cheeses, plain yoghurts because these contain high levels of calcium, phosphates and Vitamin D which are essential of development of strong teeth and bones.
- As with all foods containing any type of sugar, always rinse with water after eating. This goes a long way to discourage the growth of bacteria in young mouths and flush out the nasties. Encourage young people to chew sugar free gum if available and always brush with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste to strengthen and protect teeth.