Kid Friendly Snacks
Most kids love to eat – and it’s important to watch what they eat, not just keep them healthy and growing strong, but for our oral health as well. Eating too much of the wrong foods or drinking too many sugary drinks can cause tooth decay which can develop into cavities.
Tooth decay can happen when the bacteria that is naturally in your mouth consumes sugar. When these bacteria consume sugary foods or drinks, they form a sticky film on teeth called plaque. Plaque is bad as it dissolves enamel (the hard exterior of teeth). When the hard exterior isn’t there to protect teeth, cavities are formed.
So, what are some healthy snacks that are good for your little one’s teeth? And what should you avoid when preparing snacks? We’ve detailed both below.
Snacks that are great for teeth:
Crunch Vegetables and Fresh Fruit
Chewing crisp fruit and crunchy vegetables can help to scrub away plaque and food particles. Vegetables are chock full of vitamins and minerals for growing bodies and they also help to produce saliva that cleanses the mouth, helping to keep teeth healthy and strong. Plus both fruit and vegetables are high in fiber to help keep your little ones fuller for longer. Try cutting veggies into sticks with peanut butter, yoghurt or hummus for a tasty snack. Watch out for citrus fruits as they are high in citric acid which can erode enamel – moderation is important here.
A bowl of low-sugar yoghurt or cottage cheese
Healthy bones and teeth need calcium and vitamin D – so dairy is always a good choice! When choosing your yoghurt look for options that are unsweetened or sugar free, low-fat doesn’t always mean low sugar. If your little one likes their yoghurt a little sweet, try adding a touch of honey. Lactose free alternatives that are still high in calcium include nut milks like almond or soy/oat milk.
Almonds or walnuts (handful)
Crunchy (tick), high in calcium (tick), filling (tick). And they are yummy too! Just be careful to watch little ones eating as they can be a choking hazard for toddlers.
Cheddar, swiss and other aged cheeses can trigger the flow of saliva, helping to wash away food particles.The three options above are all good for your little one’s snacks as they are high in calcium. A mineral that plays a structural role in growing, calcium is a very important for growing and maintaining the strength of bone tissue, as well as enamel. When we don’t have enough calcium in our diet, bones can grown weak and in teeth these means becoming softer and more porous.
Not a food but something to include with snack, water helps to rinse away food particles stuck on your little ones teeth. It is also a much healthier alternative to juice or soft drink for you teeth as these drinks contain a lot of sugar which leads to tooth decay.
Snacks that you should avoid:
Fruit leathers and dried fruit
Often gooey and sticky these foods like to cling to the surface of teeth and gums – and when combined with having lots of sugar are bacteria’s best friend – too much can cause plaque leading to tooth decay.
Protein, energy or granola bars
Lots of options that fall under this category contain the dried, sticky fruits mentioned above. Whilst at first glance they might seem like a quick and healthy choice, they can also contain a lot of sugar and calories.
Chips of all sorts
Potato chips, bagel chips, goldfish and graham crackers are easy for kids to eat, but they tend to stick to teeth. They are also high in carbohydrates that break down into sugars.
Chocolate and lollies
We’re not saying never let your children have them, but moderation is key. Once again these snacks are full of sugar and are normally sticky, making them hard to remove from teeth. Try to limit these to a special treat.
Whilst soft drinks are the worst for teeth, sports drinks also contain a lot of sugar, as much as two-thirds of soft drinks. Whilst this sugar is already bad for teeth, sports drinks can also be acidic which contributes to enamel erosion.
We know that kids will be kids and it’s hard to avoid bad snacks all the time. Moderation is key and making sure to wash down food with water after eating. And don’t forget to brush twice a day and for you bigger kids flossing before you brush as well.