This year has been like no other, and one result of the pandemic is that kids have been home for much longer than in a typical year, which means more time for snacking. And, now that summer is here, this means even more snacking. Summertime snacks such as ice cream and popsicles can give your child a break from the heat. But, some summer treats can affect your kid’s teeth and put them at risk for dental problems.
It’s essential to understand how certain foods and beverages affect your child’s teeth so that you can put in place some healthy guidelines for the remainder of the summer and beyond. So, let’s learn the impact that sugar has on teeth, which foods and drinks are good and bad for teeth, ideas for healthy summer treats, and more.
The Impact of Sugar
Each of us has bacteria in our mouths, which aren’t bad in and of themselves. Some of these bacteria live on the surface of our teeth, creating a sticky film called plaque. However, when we consume too many sugary foods and beverages, the bacteria mix with the sugar to form acid. Too much of this acid will cause the enamel of our teeth to erode, which will eventually lead to cavities. Since kids are even more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities than adults are, it’s essential to limit the sugary foods your child eats.
Kids love summertime snacks such as ice cream, popsicles, smores, and even drinks like soda, lemonade, and sports drinks. So, let’s take a look at some of those snacks.
Did you know that more ice cream is sold during June and July than at any other time of the year? And, you can see why! All the wonderful flavors of ice cream make it a delicious summertime snack option. Not only are they delicious, but full of sugar. Both ice cream and popsicles are sugar-packed frozen snacks that can increase the risk of cavities and cause tooth sensitivity. Taking a family campaign trip is something else that families do every summer, which means smores! These ooey-gooey campfire favorites pack a punch when it comes to dental health. The sticky melted chocolate mixed with the melted marshmallows lingers around on teeth long after the last ember goes out, making them excellent at attracting bacteria that can cause decay.
Drinks are also something kids turn to in the summer months to cool off, like sports drinks. However, most of these sports drinks contain high levels of sugar, and some are also acidic. This combination of sugar and acid further puts teeth in danger of decay and an unexpected visit to your pediatric dentist in Temple, Texas. Another thing that children love to do during summer is set up a lemonade stand. Lemonade is highly acidic, giving us that dangerous sugar and acid combination. And lastly, you need to watch the soda intake, which is packed with sugar. That’s why water is always the best option to keep your children hydrated during the hot summer months.
While eating the above in moderation is ok (as long as you brush the sugars away from your teeth), there are healthier options for summertime snacks. When looking for yummy, smile-friendly snacks that the whole family will enjoy, consider celery and carrots. The hard, crunchy texture of celery and carrots has a way of scrubbing your child’s teeth clean. And because these vegetables take longer to chew than some other foods, that’s more time that their teeth are being cleaned! Plus, celery and carrots are high in water and fiber content, both of which are practical cleaning qualities. You can also enjoy apples. Apples have a crunchy texture and are high in water and fiber content. By having your child chew at least one apple a day, you can know that their teeth are getting a natural scrubbing! Leafy greens and broccoli are also good options. These vegetables also have a bunch of fiber, along with various vitamins and minerals. Kale, spinach, and other leafy greens are high in folic acid, which also benefits your child’s teeth and gums. Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese have Calcium, Phosphorus, and Casein. All of these minerals can help to protect your child’s tooth enamel.
Just because some of your kid’s summer favorites can increase their risk of tooth decay doesn’t mean you have to avoid them altogether. We recommend enjoying them in moderation, rinsing with water afterward, and always brushing and flossing every day and night. Also, be sure to schedule a regular checkup with the best child dentist in Temple, Texas, Dr. Prajapati.