Junk Food And Your Teeth
July 21st is National Junk Food Day, and you know what that means! Even more the reason to brush and floss! But, let’s be realistic – we know it’s hard to quit the junk food snacking 100% – especially over the Summer. And we also know that nobody can brush and floss after EVERY snack, right? Fear not! KidSmiles Pediatric Dentistry of Whittier is here to help! No need to slack off on those yummy treats, cold turkey! There are a few things you can do to prevent yourself and your children from ending up in the dentist with a cavity or tooth decay chair before the start of the school year!
The Junk Food Culprit: Sugar
Think of your favorite junk food – does your vision include an abundance of sugary treats? Most likely, it does. Snacking on sweets and sipping sugary drinks throughout the day increases the risk of tooth decay. Bacteria in the mouth feed on the excess sugar, creating acids, which erode the enamel on teeth. If the sugars aren’t brushed or rinsed off, the acid continues to eat away at the tooth enamel for at least 20 minutes afterwards. The result is tooth enamel that is worn down and susceptible to tooth decay.
What Can I Do To Prevent Junk Food Cavities For My kids and Myself?
First of all, don’t eat it. If you do decide to indulge, however, follow these tips from KidSmiles Pediatric Dentistry of Whittier so you can still enjoy SOME junk food and protect your teeth and their teeth at the same time!
- Avoid carbohydrate overload by making snacks well-rounded. Eat protein, vegetables and fruits first, before the carbohydrates and sugars. There will be less room on your plates (and in your stomach) for the cavity causing culprits like chocolate, and candy, and more room for the nutrition-packed, tooth loving foods like vegetables and lean protein.
- Watch what you and your children drink while you’re eating. For your kids, have them avoid high-calorie and high sugar drinks such as soda and sports drinks. The acid and sugar in these kinds of drinks remain on your teeth and eat way at your enamel. Your best bet is to sip on water while snacking. This will wash away any food particles and sugars stuck on and in between the surfaces of your teeth.
- Lastly, try to get rid of any food particles and sugars on your teeth as quickly as possible. This may require some planning ahead – a travel-sized tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush could come in handy. If a toothbrush and toothpaste aren’t immediately available, your best bet is to rinse your mouth out with water after eating. Have your child do the same. You can even follow up with some mouthwash for fresh breath after your snack.
What Junk Food Treats Are The Best Choice For Our Teeth?
- Sugar-free lollipops and hard candies stimulate saliva, which can help prevent dry mouth. A dry mouth allows plaque to build up on teeth faster, leading to an increased risk of cavities.
- Sugar-free gum can actually prevent cavities as it not only dislodges food particles from between the teeth but also increases saliva—which works to neutralize the acids of the mouth and prevent tooth decay.
- Dark chocolate and its antioxidants, according to some studies, can be good for the heart and may even lower blood pressure.
Remember, with a little planning ahead, indulging in all of your familiar Junk Foods can be done without negative consequences on your teeth.
KidSmiles Pediatric Dentistry of Whittier believes that education is the key to preventing childhood tooth decay. We’re committed to providing a forum where parents and pediatric dental professionals can discuss preventative dental care. We encourage parents, educators and doctors to check back frequently for more fun facts, articles and activities!