The holiday season is upon us, bringing with it cold weather, lots of sales at all your favorite stores, early Christmas music on the radio, and, of course, lots of sugary snacks. The problem with all those delicious desserts is that while they might taste great, they’re not so great for your teeth. It can be especially difficult to keep little hands out of the cookie jar around the holidays, so it’s doubly important to provide tooth-friendly snacking alternatives.
Tooth decay is the leading chronic disease in the United States among children and adults, and a big factor that leads to tooth decay is sugary snacks and drinks. The sugars in our favorite snacks are also the favorite foods of the plaque-causing bacteria that live in our mouths, and they convert the sugar into acid that eats away at our enamel. Which means that holiday cookie or cupcake may be good news for your taste buds, but it’s bad news for your teeth.
If your kids are anything like ours, then they’re going to find ways to get their hands on plenty of sugary snacks, so here are a few suggestions from your Overland Park family dentist that you can pack along in their school lunch that are a little more tooth-friendly:
- Cheese. Recent research has shown that cheese can be a fantastic food for oral health. Cheddar, Swiss, and mozzarella are all known for stimulating the production of saliva, which helps clear other food particles out of the mouth. What’s more, cheese is also a good source of calcium, which can help strengthen your kids’ teeth!
- Popcorn. While the popcorn that you get down at the movie theater may not be great for your teeth, unsweetened, unbuttered popcorn is a simple snack that can help clean plaque off your kids’ teeth, especially if it’s the last thing they eat as part of a meal or snack.
- Oranges. We know, we were just talking about how acid is bad, and here we are suggesting oranges, but here’s the thing: Oranges and other citruses—kiwis too—are a great source of vitamin C, which a kid’s body needs in order to help fight off infection. Studies have found that those who don’t get enough vitamin C are 25% more likely to have gingivitis.
- Nature’s toothbrush. Crisp, crunchy fruits and vegetables are not only nutritious snacking alternatives, but they can also help clean your teeth. Apples are most frequently referred to as “nature’s toothbrush,” but carrots and celery are also great options.
- Get creative. When all else fails, get creative. Try making a dip for fruits and veggies using peanut butter and Greek yogurt, or bake up some zucchini slices topped with tooth-friendly Parmesan cheese.
And don’t forget: Kids aren’t the only ones who like sugary snacks, especially this time of year. Mom and dad can also pack all the same items into their lunches. Your teeth will thank you, and so will your wallet.
Of course, none of us are made of stone, and we’re all bound to eat at least a few sugary snacks this holiday season, so just don’t forget to keep up your healthy dental habits of brushing and flossing regularly, and seeing your Overland Park dentist at least twice a year!
This article brought to you by Watts Family Dental in Overland Park, Kansas. Our friendly office specializes in preventative dental care for the whole family. To make an appointment, please call (913) 338-3384 or click here to fill out our online contact form.