Healthier Options for Summer Treats - First Things First
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Healthier Options for Summer Treats

The calendar is starting to turn, but it still feels like summer with scorching temperatures. While the heat is the same, families are having to deal with a year unlike any other because of the pandemic, families have been forced to cancel their normal summer plans and spend long days at home.

This means less time enjoying public pools, splash pads, playgrounds and other leisurely activities and more time indoors.

It’s safe to say, children request more treats and snacks when they’re constantly at home, just a few feet from the kitchen. Here are a few things you should know concerning how these choices can affect the health of their teeth.

How Snacks Can Affect Oral Health

Tooth decay occurs when sugary or starchy foods latch on to our teeth and are broken down by naturally occurring bacteria. As the process starts, our mouths release small amounts of acid, which starts dissolving tooth enamel.

Over time, damage sets in, eventually leading to tooth decay and cavities, particularly in our youth. In fact, any carbohydrates, including candy, sugary cereals, popsicles, cookies and sodas will wreak havoc on children’s teeth.

The biggest culprits are snacks that are both sticky and sugary, such as fruit snacks and fruit rollups, which are often favorites for children under the age of five.

These types of chewy treats can actually adhere to your children’s teeth and remain there for hours until their teeth are eventually brushed and flossed. Certain drinks can also be detrimental toward little one’s teeth, including soda, lemonade, chocolate milk and fruit juices. Although it’s okay to provide sweets to children in moderation, there are several far better alternatives that most dentists recommend.

Scrumptious Suggestions for Pearly Whites

The American Dental Association suggests that low-fat dairy foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans and lean meats are all part of a well-rounded diet.

When youngsters consume a variety of foods from each of these categories it drastically improves the health of their bodies, teeth and gums.

Luckily, there are some tasty and healthy replacements that can be substituted for the normal lineup of sweets that children crave. Swapping some snacks for these dentist-approved treats will add a boost to your child’s oral health and lead to a cavity-free checkup at their next dentist appointment.

Healty Snacking Options for Young Children

  • Cubed chilled watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew
  • Frozen red and green grapes
  • Low-fat yogurt topped with fresh berries
  • Sliced apples with peanut butter or sliced cheddar cheese
  • Whole grain pita or crackers with hummus
  • Smoothies made with almond or coconut milk, fresh berries & ice
  • Crunchy veggies, like carrots, celery and snap peas with Ranch dip
  • Popcorn (but be sure to floss afterwards)
  • A colorful combination of fruit salad (pineapple, grapes, orange slices, etc)
  • Turkey or ham & cream cheese rollups
  • Low-fat string cheese/sliced cheese
  • Sunflower seeds and mixed nuts
  • Unsweetened applesauce topped with cinnamon

Worst Cavity Offenders

Hopefully, taking a look at these healthy snacking alternatives will help you modify your children’s munchies’ menu moving forward. The thing to remember is that moderation is the key when it comes to sweet foods and drinks. There is definitely a time and a place for indulging in cakes, ice creams and special occasion treats.

However, below is a list of snacking “no-no’s” that should be avoided at all costs because of how terrible they are for teeth:

  • Lollipops
  • Hard sticky candy
  • Gummy candy including worms, bears and other
  • Salt-water taffy
  • Caramels
  • Marshmallows
  • Chocolate covered raisins

Super Suggestions for Summer Smiles

The best option for avoiding tooth decay is to provide children with a set routine, which includes carefully brushing their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes at a time, flossing daily and using an age-appropriate mouth rinse.

Also, remember to schedule bi-annual dental appointments for children starting with the appearance of their first tooth or first birthday. Making healthy oral health choices begins at an early age and it can lead to a lifetime filled with healthy, bright smiles and positive dental habits.