With summer vacation in full swing and children enjoying days filled with delicious seasonal treats, it’s easy to forget that your child’s oral health may be suffering. Summertime is known as the season of fruit, popsicles, candy, ice cream, soda, and many other fun foods that can actually seriously harm your child’s teeth. We’ve rounded up the most notoriously tooth damaging culprits you’ll likely see this summer to help you identify where a treat alternative might be a better idea in the long-run.
Popsicles, ice cream, and freezies
These frozen confections can be very tempting on a warm summer day, but it’s important to remember that they are packed with sugar. When you eat a popsicle, freezie, or similar treat, your teeth are in constant contact with sugars. These sugars latch onto teeth and gums and breed bacteria that begin to eat away at the enamel of your teeth. If the bacteria is not properly removed quickly, you may see cavities develop very quickly. A single cup of plain vanilla ice cream has the equivalent of over five teaspoons of sugar in it.
As an alternative, keep a bowl of fresh fruit in the fridge to have as a snack. There is much less sugar in natural foods and the cold will help to cool you down on a hot day. If you’re looking for something with more substance, try plain yogurt with fruits and, if you’d prefer, a teaspoon of natural honey mixed in. Again, this will contain less sugar, satisfy any cravings, and the calcium in the plain yogurt is good for teeth.
Sodas and sports drinks
As the weather heats up, more and more people, children and adult alike, reach for a sports drink or pop instead of water to quench their thirst. When this is done more than once throughout the day, teeth become constantly subjected to sugar without a break. Again, this means that, without being properly removed, sugar bred bacteria can wreak havoc on teeth and gums. Sodas are especially destructive as the carbonation can also play a hand in eroding tooth enamel when consumed throughout the day. To put into perspective how much sugar your teeth are subjected to each time you reach for a soda or sports drink over water, consider that in one regular sized can of pop is the equivalent of ten teaspoons of sugar.
To make sure that your child’s teeth don’t suffer from sugary liquids like these, offer them either water or natural fruit juices as an alternative.
While children are on vacation, it’s common to see them munching on sweets that they wouldn’t normally eat throughout the day. While a piece of candy here and there can be nice, having too much too often can be detrimental to your oral health. There are two kinds of candies that are the worst for teeth and gums: those that are very chewy and sticky and those that are hard and must be constantly sucked on. The first type lodges in between teeth and other difficult to reach areas and can be very hard to remove with just a toothbrush. Because these candies stick so well to teeth, it allows tons of destructive bacteria to eat the tooth enamel in a very concentrated area. Harder candies are left in the mouth for a long time, subjecting teeth to a constant stream of sugar without a break. This means that bacteria is allowed to build up without the mouth having a chance to battle it naturally.
Fresh fruits and veggies are the healthiest alternative to any candies as they hold a fraction of the amount of sugar and can actually help to clean the mouth. Try freezing grapes for a fun fruit alternative that can battle sugar cravings in an instant.
The easiest way to keep your dental health in check
The most important thing to do when caring for your family’s oral health is to make frequent visits to your dentist. Professional teeth cleanings are essential in keeping your dental health in check as dental professionals are able to see and reach areas of your mouth that you cannot. Allowing these areas to go unchecked for too long can have destructive effects. Having regular checkups ensures that both you and your dentist are aware of what’s going on in your mouth and, if an issue does arise, you can find a solution as quickly as possible.
If you do not currently visit a dental practice or are looking for one that specializes in child and family care, visit 123 Dentist’s list of dental practitioners.