Everyone wants what is best for their families which is why most parents try to teach their children the right things starting from a young age, including all about oral hygiene. After all, you will want to see them having happy, healthy smiles that will last a lifetime.
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When it comes to keeping strong and healthy teeth, the mission goes beyond frequent brushing and flossing habits. It is important for you to be aware of the best and worst foods for your children’s teeth and provide them with healthy choices to help them manage their oral health. Here are the 7 worst foods that you need to watch out for.
#1 Juices and Sports Drinks
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A lot of sports drinks and fruit juices contain high sources of sugar, citric acid and high-calorie intake that can lead to tooth enamel erosion and cavities forming. Instead of giving them these types of drinks, opt for plain water instead which is a much healthier and cheaper alternative. Many water sources also contain fluoride which is essential for preventing cavities.
#2 Dried Fruits
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Plenty of people assume that dried fruits are a healthy snack that should be at the top of the list as part of a balanced diet. However, when they got processed, they got deprived of water and turned into sticky natural candy that lost many nutrients. Once stuck on your children’s teeth, sticky dried fruits tend to stay longer compared to other kinds of food, leading to bacteria and decay forming. It also contains high sugar which is already bad enough for the health. Dried fruit has a decreased percentage of water and vitamins per serving, so fresh fruit provides a healthier alternative that will still satisfy your kid’s sweet tooth.
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Ice cubes are obviously not an actual food but many kids including adults love chewing on them like a snack. However, studies have proven that chewing on ice can weaken the teeth and causing them to chip or fracture. Those tiny cracks will then act as an entry point for bacteria, increasing the risk of cavities and tooth sensitivity. Its hard surface may also make your kid more susceptible to dental emergencies such as loosened crowns and broken teeth which are definitely not worth it. If your child develops a habit of chewing ice, try to limit their access by giving them drinks that are chilled without ice.
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When starchy foods are chewed, the starch breaks down into sugars that form a gummy paste. This paste then sticks to teeth and even gets into the crevices between them, making way for bacteria that can cause tooth decay. An example of foods that are high in starch is pizza, potato chips, crackers and white bread. Try to limit your child’s consumption of foods made from white flour and instead choose carbohydrates made from complex carbs like whole-grain bread which contain fewer added sugars and break down less easily in the mouth.
#5 Chewy Candies
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Treats like gummy bears and candy worms are always going to be something that is difficult to keep away from children. As good as it tastes, these types of candies are some of the worst foods for your child’s tooth due to the high levels of sugar it contains. This is because its sticky texture can do even more damage since they stick to the surfaces of the teeth, providing an extended breeding ground for acid-producing bacteria. If your children have just eaten any chewy sweets, make sure they rinse their mouth with water afterwards to help wash away the sugary residue from their teeth and to prevent tooth decay.
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In terms of unhealthy drinks, soda always tends to be the number one most mentioned in the list. Bubbly sodas get their carbonation from carbonic acid, which makes soda a very acidic drink. When the teeth are exposed to acid, it wears away at the enamel, and worn-away enamel makes teeth more susceptible to tooth decay. Over time, this will cause discolouration and teeth with eroded enamel are also more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures.
#7 Citrus Fruits
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Citrus fruits such as oranges are often applauded for their high vitamin C content. However, these fruits are very acidic and can discolour or stain the teeth. Acid can erode tooth enamel, which isn’t good for your child’s oral health and well-being. The more acidic a fruit, the worse it is for your child’s teeth. Other very acidic citrus fruits include lemons, limes, and grapefruits. While it may be bad, it is still fine to be consumed in a moderate amount and with great oral care.
For many children, it can be very difficult to abstain from eating their favourite treats. But having a sweet tooth can be very harmful to kids’ oral health, particularly for kids’ teeth where tooth development becomes impacted. Therefore, it is vitally important that your child consumes healthy foods as part of a balanced diet. Healthy foods should contain the right nutrients and vitamins for strong and healthy tooth development. Aside from that, oral hygiene still plays the most important role at the end of the day.
Want to read more? Check out some of the best homemade baby foods that you can find in Malaysia and how you can handle upset toddlers.