As you pack bags for the pool, park and road trips this summer, don’t forget to include healthy snacks for you and your kids. Unfortunately, many prepackaged foods today contain high levels of processed sugar, which are unhealthy for overall health — teeth included. Here are a few tooth-friendly snacks you should keep on hand this summer to foster healthy eating habits and good oral health.
Smart Snacking Tips for Healthy Teeth
Foods high in sugars and starches contribute to the production of plaque and acid in the mouth that attack tooth enamel. Over time these acids break down the enamel, forming a hole, or cavity, in the tooth. By eating the right foods and limiting unhealthy snacks, you can help protect your family from tooth decay and other diseases.
As a general rule when selecting healthy snacks for your family, choose whole foods that consist of very few ingredients — such as fresh fruits, raw vegetables, whole grains, nuts and dairy products. Likewise, limit processed foods such as cookies, chips, crackers, juice and soda. These snacks contain a lot of sugar and little nutritional value, which can have negative effects on your oral health and total body health.
Healthy snack options include:
- Apples - Apples and most other fresh fruits provide a sweet taste without the risk of cavities. Crunchy apples also help stimulate saliva flow, which can help cleanse the teeth while you chew.
- Water - Rather than sipping on juice or sports drinks this summer, stick with plain water when you are thirsty. Water helps keep you hydrated while rinsing food particles from your mouth that lead to plaque buildup and decay.
- Cheese - Not only do cheese sticks and cubes make great on-the-go snacks, they also help protect your teeth from decay by lowering the acidity in the mouth. Cheese is also rich in calcium and protein, which strengthen tooth enamel.
- Plain Yogurt - Yogurt is a high-protein snack that contains calcium to keep teeth strength. Choose plain yogurt and fresh fruit for a sweet, filling treat that won’t hurt your teeth.
- Almonds - Almonds make a great snack because they are easy to eat on the run and provide an excellent source of calcium and protein without all the added sugar. Eat them on their own or add them to your yogurt for a little extra flavor.
- Celery - With high water content and minimal sugar, celery is an excellent snack option for your teeth. Because it is crunchy, celery and many other raw vegetables massage the gums as you chew and scrape away bad bacteria from the teeth. If your kids don’t enjoy celery’s bland taste, add peanut butter, hummus or cream cheese for extra nutrition and flavor.
Making nutritious, tooth-friendly snacks that your whole family can enjoy doesn’t have to be difficult. Stay away from processed snacks when you can and include plenty of whole, nutrient-rich foods into your family’s diet. Remember, the best way to protect your teeth from harmful sugars in food is by brushing and flossing daily — and maintaining regular checkups with McLean DDS. Call us today to schedule your next appointment!