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Pediatric Dentistry - Hot to Prevent Tooth Decay in Children With Cool Treats

Snacking -- it's a frequent ritual for all ages and a regular part of most kids' lives. Healthy snack foods can contribute to a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of foods, giving our bodies the nutrients they need.

The Daily Food Pyramid established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is a good guide to daily food choices. The best snacks for good dental health include foods rich in complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and protein. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins and minerals, free of cholesterol, virtually fat-free, and low in calories -- which are good reasons for enjoying them as snacks.

Foods containing fats, oils, pastries, candy, and other sweets should be eaten sparingly. However, food products that are high in these things often have the large advertising budgets and are heavily promoted to children.

Serving your children healthy snacks or having these ingredients on hand for them to serve themselves is easy and convenient. Teaching them early about making healthful food choices is good guidance that lasts a lifetime.

At least five servings of fruits and vegetables are recommended daily. Snacks are a good way to get them. However, even natural sugars found in them can contribute to tooth decay. Limit the frequency of snacking because frequent "grazing" coats the teeth in cavity-causing bacteria.

Some research has shown that when cheese or peanuts are eaten with or after carbohydrates, they may help to counter the effects of acids harmful to teeth. In any event, be sure and rinse or brush after each snack!

Here are some fresh, snack ideas from a children's dentist for satisfying and healthy treats:

  • Munch on a colorful assortment of fresh fruit. There's a rainbow of snack ideas -- apples, pears, grapes, kiwi, berries, peaches, plums, melons, and more. Try some of the new fruits, too, from around the world now available in produce departments.
  • Enjoy celery, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, and other crunchy fresh vegetables plain or dunk them into a dressing or your favorite dip.
  • Zip up a zesty snack with citrus fruits including juicy oranges, grapefruit, and those easy-to-peel, "zipper" fruits: tangerines and tangelos.
  • Make frozen banana chips to have on hand whenever the snack urge strikes. Cut a green-tipped or ripe banana crosswise into rounds; spread rounds on aluminum foil, then wrap tightly. Freeze and enjoy a frosty snack.
  • Make fruit smoothies for refreshing, satisfying, and healthful snacks. Choose from the cool collection of fruits. Combine chunks of fruit like bananas, berries, or nectarines with some milk and ice, and whirl in a blender. You can also add some yogurt or fruit juice or sweeten smoothies with a little sugar, if desired. The ideas are endless with the rainbow of fruits, flavored yogurts, and juices.
  • Make a snack mix of low sugar cereals with peanuts, tiny snack crackers, sesame sticks, and raisins, or other dried fruits such as cranberries.

Encourage children to eat healthy snacks but limit the frequency of snacking. Let them know that brushing between meals whenever possible is an excellent way to fight cavities. Don't let snack attacks become plaque attacks!

by Brian J. Gray, DDS, MAGD, FICO

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Succasunna Office
20 Commerce Boulevard, Suite B
Succasunna, NJ 07876
General Info: (973) 584-1066
Hackettstown Office
57 Route 46 Patriot Plaza
Hackettstown, NJ 07840
General Info: (908) 979-9779

 Call for an appointment:
(973) 584-1066

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