El Cajon, CA – We have all heard the saying “you are what you eat.” We know certain foods can fuel our bodies, while others should be eaten in moderation. What you eat also affects the health of your teeth and gums.
“What you eat also feeds that bacteria that live in our mouths,” says El Cajon pediatric dentist Dr. Santiago Surillo. “And that bacteria can lead to plaque, which can then lead to tooth decay. I want to help children develop healthy eating habits to ensure their bodies and smiles are strong and healthy.”
So what foods are on Dr. Surillo’s list to eat in moderation?
- Sticky, sugary foods that linger in your mouth. Things like hard candies, lollipops, fruit snacks, jelly beans and caramels are all high in sugar, and can stick to the teeth. That means these foods can feed the bacteria in our mouths for even longer, causing acid attacks that can start to eat away at our enamel. If your child has a sweet tooth, opt for treats that can be washed away easily by saliva, and don’t let your child snack on these throughout the day.
- Starchy carbohydrates. Macaroni and cheese is a staple of every child’s diet, but pasta, along with other starchy foods like chips, crackers and any foods made from white flour can be as harmful to your child’s teeth as a lollipop. That’s because simple carbohydrates get turned into sugars, creating a feast for the bacteria that live in our mouths.
- Acidic foods. Avoid giving your child too much citrus fruit or juice as the acid in these can eat away at the enamel of the teeth, leaving them susceptible to decay.
- Soda and carbonated beverages. Soda is high in sugar, but even diet sodas can be harmful for your child’s smile. Soda contains both phosphorous and carbonation, which can damage the enamel of the teeth. Soda should be considered a treat, and when drinking it, try to use a straw to prevent your teeth from coming into contact with it.
- Sports drinks. Sports drinks should only be given to children who are participating in vigorous physical activity. Sugar is one of the top ingredients in many sports drinks, and they can be as damaging to a smile as soda.
“Early childhood caries is the number one chronic childhood issue, so it’s important that parents do all they can to help ensure their children have healthy smiles,” says Dr. Surillo. “If we encourage healthy habits from a young age, we can set our children up for a lifetime of health.”