10 Foods to Avoid for Your Child's Dental Health

Tooth decay and cavities occur when the bacteria inside our mouths feast on sugars and starches in our diets and then produce various acids as a byproduct. These acids eat away at the teeth, weakening the tooth enamel, causing tooth decay, and eventually leading to the formation of cavities. 

Thankfully, you can combat tooth decay by keeping these bacteria in check and being careful about what you expose your teeth to through your diet. 

Top 10 Worst Foods for Your Child's Teeth

1. Lollipops, Cough Drops, and Hard Candy

Any sugar-filled item that stays in the mouth, dissolving over a long period of time increases the amount of time that the teeth are exposed to sugar and acid. This means that things like suckers, hard candy, and even cough drops are really bad for your tooth enamel. 

2. Sour Candy

Sour candies are typically filled with sugar which feeds the bacteria inside your mouth. They are also commonly really sticky which makes the sugar cling to your teeth, directly exposing them. Additionally, sour candy contains a variety of other acids (that's why it tastes sour), and these acids will also break down your tooth enamel. 

3. Carbonated Drinks

Carbonated drinks of all kinds are bad for your teeth because they are highly acidic and can weaken your tooth enamel. This includes carbonated water. Plus, soft drinks that contain lots of sugar are even worse for your teeth. 

4. Citrus

Citrus fruits and juices (orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, etc.) are highly acidic because they contain citric acid. This acid can also weaken your tooth enamel. Additionally, these foods and juices contain lots of sugar to feed the harmful bacteria inside your mouth. 

5. Sports Drinks

Sports drinks are another highly sugary beverage that bacteria love to feast on. 

6. Crackers, Chips, and Other Starchy Foods

Starchy foods like bread, pasta, chips, cookies, and crackers tend to cling to the surfaces of the teeth, becoming wedged into the spaces between the teeth, and stuck in the nooks and crannies. These foods are also high in carbohydrates (i.e. sugars) on which bacteria will feast. 

7. Gummies

Any gummy candy or treats such as fruit snacks, gummy bears or worms, and fruit leathers are high in sugar and very sticky. This means the sugar sticks right to the tooth enamel, directly exposing it to harmful bacteria and acid.

8. Dried Fruit

Like gummy candies, dried fruits are high in sugar and sticky. Some varieties also contain a lot of acid which is harmful to the teeth. 

9. Pasta and Red Sauce

Tomatoes are highly acidic. Combined with the sticky starch of pasta, tomato sauce can be particularly tough on tooth enamel. 

10. Ice

Although ice isn't technically a food and it doesn't contain any sugar or acid, lots of people like to chew on it. This is problematic because ice is quite hard. Chewing on ice can put excessive wear and tear on your teeth, and this can accelerate the breakdown of tooth enamel. 

What You Can Do to Protect Your Child's Teeth

It can be hard to completely avoid all of these foods and drinks. So, the best way to protect your child's oral health is by helping them develop good oral hygiene habits. Teach them to rinse their mouths with water after enjoying these kinds of treats in addition to brushing their teeth twice a day for at least two minutes and flossing at least once a day. 

Additionally, staying hydrated by drinking lots of water helps to promote healthy saliva production that can clean the teeth, rid the mouth of sugar and acid, and remineralize the tooth enamel throughout the day. 

Combat Tooth Decay With Routine Dental Cleanings and Examinations

In addition to practicing good oral hygiene habits at home, it's essential that your child visit the dentist at least twice a year for routine checkups and professional cleanings. During these appointments, we can identify any problem areas or early signs of tooth decay to intervene and help your child take better care of their teeth. Additionally, we can apply professional fluoride treatments to help strengthen their tooth enamel and dental sealants to protect the surfaces of their molars. 

To learn more about supporting your child's oral health through dental care in addition to diet and lifestyle choices, we welcome you to contact our office in Muskegon, Wisconsin to request a preventive dental appointment for your child. 

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