When it comes to food, kids make up as much of a market share as adults. And like adults, kids are susceptible to these marketing messages that make processed foods seem more desirable than whole foods.
Dr. Jay Slater, a dentist in Beaverton, and his team at Slater Family Dental encourage families to prioritize whole foods in order to maintain good dental health. Here are the best and worst foods for your kids’ teeth!
While we’ve been conditioned to eat certain things for breakfast, they often contain enough sugar to rival dessert.
Worst: Breakfast cereal is probably the most common culprit. They generally contain a lot of sugar with little protein or fiber. Another bad guy on the breakfast front are toaster pastries and toaster strudel, in which each layer is contains sugar and no nutrients.
Best: Read the labels carefully and choose cereals that don’t contain any words for sugar as the first three ingredients (i.e. high fructose corn and maltodextrin). Choose foods that have 3 or more grams of fiber and protein in each serving.
Children require several snacks throughout the day in order to support their growth and development, including a variety of fruit.
Worst: Surprise! Those packages labeled “fruit” snacks don’t often contain fruit; or, at best, they contain a scant percentage of a fruit product.
Best: Fresh fruit is actually the best option, as there’s plenty of fiber and nutrients to balance out the carbohydrates. Dried fruit is also a good alternative, although it can tend to stick to the surfaces of teeth and have a high sugar content. Mix dried fruit with a variety of nuts to add some balance.
We tend to crave salty snacks throughout the day, in addition to sweet foods.
Worst: Pretzel, chips and crackers are all popular snacks but are also starches. These break down into sugar, which clings to teeth and leads to tooth decay, and lack vital nutrients important for a child’s health.
Best: Opt for snacks high in protein. Jerky makes an excellent snack, as do nuts of different kinds. Both can be high in sodium, so watch serving sizes.
Don’t Forget Drinks
While not technically a food, drinks make up a large part of any daily diet. The kinds of drinks that we consume on a regular basis make a huge difference in our dental health!
Worst: Soda has long been known as bad for kids’ teeth and overall health. Keep soda to a bare minimum, along with sports drinks and energy drinks. Beware of juices that claim to be and have the word “fruit” in them, i.e. fruit punch.
Best: Stick with water as a primary source of hydration, followed by milk. Serve 100% fruit juices rarely as they contain high amounts of sugar without the fiber to balance it out.
It might be time to bring your children to see Dr. Slater, a dentist in Aloha, and his team at Slater Family Dental. Call us at 503-536-1839 to schedule your appointment!