Summer is a great fun time for families, and it seems to always involve outside food and drinks. Most of these would not qualify in the healthy eating category, but they are certainly part of what we enjoy about this wonderful season. Let’s talk about how to keep our kids’ precious teeth decay free while they enjoy summer treats and sweets.
First, let’s remember how decay gets started: We all have many different bacteria in our mouths. Some of them are decay causing by turning the sugar we eat into decay-causing acid that destroys the enamel on our teeth. When we consume anything with sugar in it, some of that sugar stays dissolved in our saliva even after we swallow. Those bacteria create acid that damages our enamel for 30 – 45 minutes. That reaction occurs whether we eat an entire candy bar or just take a bite; whether we have a sip of lemonade or the whole glass. Reducing the number of times we consume sugary things is the key to having fewer cavities.
So how do we do that, especially with children? By limiting the number of times during the day the treats are offered or available. Since a single bite is as damaging as the whole thing, the trick is to stop the constant snacking on sweets and replace the snacking with non-cavity causing snacks: crackers, popcorn, fruit, veggies, cheese, pretzels, etc. All day Kool-Aid, sodas and popsicles can be replaced with ice water and sugar free drinks. But, when it’s time for ice cream cones and lemonade, enjoy! Since the entire day hasn’t been filled with poor food choices, the snacks aren’t as damaging. When sweets are more controlled, parents can also remind little ones to brush afterwards to get those “cavity bugs” off their teeth.
So enjoy this warm weather and all the food and fun that are a part of the season and vacations. And don’t worry, if a cavity still happens, even with your best effort, we are always here to fix things right up for you and your children.