Since April is Oral Health month, we thought we’d take the opportunity to highlight the link between nutritious snacks and healthy teeth. Snacking in between meals can be a good thing for busy, growing kids. But it may not be so good when it comes to their oral health. Teeth, like the rest of the body, need a nutritious diet.
The scoop on sugar
Sugar causes tooth decay. It’s not just the amount in foods, but how sticky the foods, how often, and the time of day they’re eaten. Frequent snacking, and sipping on sugary drinks like juice and pop, during the day exposes the teeth to sugar for long periods of time. The sugar combines with bacteria or plaque in the mouth to make an acid that causes tooth decay. Diet or unsweetened drinks can be just as harmful to teeth. These drinks are acidic and the acid can soften the enamel (surface) of the teeth.
Oral health problems can be painful, and can negatively affect your child’s overall health, self-esteem and school performance. Not to mention, they can be very costly to treat.
Try these smart snacking tips to help prevent cavities:
· Serve vegetables, fruit, cheese, yogurt, nuts, or plain popcorn for snacks
· Avoid sugary treats that stay in the mouth for a long time, like hard candy or suckers
· Avoid soft, sticky sweets that get stuck in the teeth, like granola bars and dried fruit
· Limit sweet foods to meals or times when your child can brush their teeth after eating
· Limit juice and milk to meal times only; drink tap water between meals
· Fill re-useable beverage containers with water only
Remember that teeth should be brushed for at least two minutes, twice a day, especially at bedtime. If unable to brush after eating, try to:
· Swish and swallow with water
· Chew a piece of sugar-free gum
· Eat a piece of cheddar cheese
Visit the Perth District Health Unitweb site for more information about oral health.
Here’s a great recipe that is both kid and tooth-friendly. These english muffin pizzas make an easy after-school snack or quick meal. Help your kids to assemble these themselves using whatever toppings they like!
Not all pizza is created equal! These tips will help keep these pizzas a healthier choice:
- Use whole wheat english muffins
- Pick a lower sugar, sodium and fat tomato sauce
- Focus on veggies for toppings and skip the processed meats like pepperoni and ham - these are high in sodium and contain preservatives.
Makes 8 mini pizzas
- 4 whole wheat english muffins, sliced
- 1 cup marinara or pizza sauce
- 1 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella)
- ½ to 1 cup of your favourite toppings (such as mushrooms, peppers, onions, pineapple, olives)
- Preheat the broiler of your oven
- Toast english muffins halves in the toaster or toaster oven. Remove and place the halves on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment
- Top each english muffin half with 2 tsbp sauce, 2 tbsp cheese, and whatever toppings you like
- Place your baking sheet in the oven and broil for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
Natalee RD & Katherine, Public Health Promoter