Healthy Snacks for Healthy Mouths

You know that too much sugar is bad for your children’s teeth. But did you know which foods are actually good for their oral health?

March is National Nutrition Month and is a great time to discuss some good-for-you snacks that promote healthy mouths. There’s good chance your children enjoy these snacks regularly. They just don’t realize the important role they play in maintaining a healthy mouth!

Here’s a look at 10 delicious snacks that not only taste great, but also protect your children’s teeth and mouths.

  1. Strawberries

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but did you know that strawberries can keep the dentist away? Strawberries contain malic acid which increases the amount of saliva in the mouth. Saliva serves as very important function in a child’s mouth — it helps to wash away leftover bits of food and drink which could cause decay. An added bonus? Strawberries also have ellagitannins and antioxidants which help reduce bacteria that can stain or inflame your teeth and gums.

  1. Raisins

Yes, these sweet treats contain sugar, but it’s the good kind! In fact, the phytochemicals found in raisins can destroy the bacteria that causes plaque. And some studies have even found that raisins’ compounds prevent bacteria from reproducing. That’s good news for little mouths!

  1. Cheese

Cheese contains phosphates and calcium, two minerals that work to neutralize acid caused by plaque. They also help keep tooth enamel strong and the lactic acid found in cheese protects against tooth decay.

  1. Dark Chocolate

Chocolate isn’t usually considered a “health” food, but dark chocolate can actually protect your child’s teeth. Dark chocolate is filled with antioxidants that prevent bacteria from sticking to your teeth. The sweet stuff can also neutralize bacteria that causes bad breath, and it contains theobromine, a substance that hardens tooth enamel. It’s also got much less sugar than milk chocolate. Dentists and moms love that!

  1. Crunchy Veggies

Carrot sticks, celery, cauliflower and cucumbers are healthy for the body, but they’re also good for the teeth. When your little one bites into one of these crunchy snacks, any plaque that’s growing on the surface of a tooth is disturbed. That means, instead of sticking around to damage to a tooth, the plaque is washed away.

  1. Calcium-Rich Foods

Foods rich in calcium help tooth enamel healthy and strong. Calcium can actually repair damage done to tooth enamel by acidic foods and drinks. But don’t think you’re limited to dairy products for calcium. Almonds, leafy green veggies, broccoli and edamame are great sources of calcium, too.

  1. Milk

Drinking a glass of milk after a sugary snack can actually help lower the acid produced by bacteria. That’s good news if your child eats a lot of sugary cereals, right? Not exactly. Adding cereal to milk makes the it syrupy sweet and takes away its neutralizing powers. But it’s a great option to wash down the occasional cookie or piece of chocolate cake.

  1. Cranberries

Cranberries contain polyphenols which can prevent plaque from sticking to tooth enamel. Take care though — to counteract the berries’ tartness, some cranberry products have a lot of added sugar. Be sure to read labels to avoid eating too much. And the plaque-fighting benefits seem to be greater with fresh cranberries, not the dried version.

  1. Yogurt

Loaded with calcium and protein, yogurt can be quite good for your teeth. Plus, probiotics found in yogurt crowd out the bad bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease. Plain yogurt with no added sugar is the best bet.

  1. Apples

Apples are sweet, but they have many added benefits. They’re filled with fiber and water and by eating an apple, the mouth is stimulated to make more saliva. And just like carrots and celery, apples clean away plaque from teeth. They’re great options for on-the-go snacks when you won’t be able to brush for several hours.

Any parent knows that kids love to snack, but it’s important to snack on foods that will keep their bodies healthy and their teeth strong. These 10 foods are great options for little ones who need a bite between meals.

If you have questions about your child’s oral health, please call us at the Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida. We’re here to help!