Dr. Susan Fallahi, D.D.S., of Uptown Pediatric Dentistry.

We all know that sugary treats are bad for your kid’s teeth, but what about sticky or starchy foods?

Dr. Susan Fallahi of Uptown Pediatric Dentistry helps set the record straight on five worst foods for young teeth — and some better options.

Goldfish/Crackers 
Although a popular and convenient on-the-to snack for kids, the starches in carbohydrate-based foods are broken down by saliva and turned into sugars. These sugars can cause cavities, of course. In addition, as these starchy foods are chewed, they easily get stuck in the crevices on top of and between teeth, and can stay around for hours after the bag has long been emptied.

A better alternative is to pair starchy snacks with crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples or carrots. This helps to remove the cracker remnants from the crevices of the teeth. Another popular pairing with crackers is cheese, which is surprisingly great for your teeth. Not only does it have high levels of phosphate and calcium, which naturally strengthen teeth and bones, but it also helps balance the pH level in your mouth, lessening harmful acid and the risk for cavities.

 

Dried Fruits 
Most parents choose dried fruits as a healthy alternative to fruit snacks or gummies that are packed with sugar. However, many dried fruits are just as sticky as those fruit snacks and will get stuck in those stubborn tooth crevices.

A better option is to brush and floss after having snacking on those delicious dried mangoes, or opt for the fresh versions instead (with the added benefit of less concentrated sugar vs. their dried counterparts).

 

Juice 
Fruit juices (even the all-natural, no-sugar-added, organic, 100% real fruit variety) can wreak havoc on your child’s teeth. They are highly acidic and contain concentrated sugars (natural or not). The vitamins and minerals in fruit juices don’t outweigh the harmful effects it can have on teeth, and they are more concentrated with sugars that their whole fruit counterparts don’t include.

If your child drinks fruit juice from a sippy cup, they are essentially coating their teeth in acid all day long, which can quickly break down enamel and cause a mouth full of cavities. Note: Don’t brush teeth immediately after any citrus fruit or drink. The acid in the citrus will temporarily weaken your enamel and brushing immediately after can wear it away, causing more damage.

Instead, offer fruit juices like you would any other treat, but only during designated meals or snack times.

 

Sports Drinks 
Older children playing sports, especially during the New Orleans summertime heat, will drink sports drinks like they would water. These popular liquids still contain the sugars and acids that weaken tooth enamel and cause cavities.

A healthier option is to always have a water bottle with you. Allow your active child to drink their sports drink to replenish their electrolytes, but limit it to one bottle, then wash it down with lots of water.

 

Ice 
Chewing on ice gives you that satisfying crunch and the added benefit of keeping you cool and hydrated during the dregs of summertime. However, chewing on any hard substance can lead to a dental emergency.

Chewing ice can damage your enamel and can cause problems with any existing dental work you have. It can also cause micro-cracks in your teeth that can make you more susceptible to cavities. Yes, even those delicious snowballs count.

Opt for already-chilled beverages or drinks, instead, without the ice to resist the urge.

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