It’s no secret that getting your children to practice positive oral hygiene habits is easier said than done, especially when it comes to cutting back on sugary snacks. But the fact is, more than 40% of children have dental cavities by the time they reach kindergarten, making it more important than ever to do what you can as a parent to help keep your children’s oral hygiene habits in check. A big part of this is replacing the sugar-filled snacks and desserts your kids love with a more healthy, teeth-friendly alternative. Here are just a few ideas to help your kids prioritize dental health while satisfying their sweet tooth at the same time.
Sugar substitutes haven’t always been well-received among health-conscious parents, but multiple studies have confirmed that this one’s legit. Xylitol is a type of sugar that is extracted from a number of plants, and surprisingly, it can actually battle tooth decay by working against the primary bacteria that causes it — mutans streptococci. You can find xylitol in a number of sugarless chewing gums and mints. It’s also available to buy as a general sweetener at many health food stores.
Incorporating more fresh fruits into your child’s diet can certainly help them ward off cavities and tooth decay. In particular, fruits high in fiber, such as apples, can effectively ‘scrub’ the teeth because they take longer to chew. Apples can also help to neutralize the acids known to damage teeth. Furthermore, high-fiber fruits can assist with rebuilding minerals that are removed by damaging acids.
While you can’t expect much of an oral health boost by letting your child chomp into a chocolate bar, studies have shown that cocoa has strong anti-mutans streptococci properties. The darker chocolate, the bigger the benefits. Milk chocolate won’t cut it because of its combination of dairy and sugar, but the ingredients in dark chocolate, such as cocoa, can certainly benefit oral hygiene when eaten in moderation. Just don’t forget to brush afterward!
Ultimately, taking small steps to replace damaging snacks with healthier alternatives is the best way to set your child up with healthy oral hygiene habits for life. Of course, you should always confer with dentists for regular cleanings and checkups. For more information about family dentists, contact Smilez Pediatric Dental Group.