We all love to snack so it’s important to understand what are the best (and worst) snack foods for our teeth. Choosing the right snack foods and establishing healthy, “tooth-friendly” eating patterns at a young age can help to build good habits that last a lifetime. Choosing the right tooth-friendly snacks can help reduce your child’s risk of getting cavities, which can benefit both the baby teeth and the permanent teeth.
Best Snack Choices for Healthy Teeth
Picking the right snacks that taste good, and are good for our teeth, can be tricky. Our favorite recommendations for snack foods for healthy teeth are:
- Cheese (and other dairy products)
- Fresh vegetables
Cheese, along with most dairy products, has a good source of calcium and is generally low in sugar. It’s important to be mindful of some dairy products, especially heavily processed yogurts, that may be high in sugar. Cheese is usually a safe bet and it can be bought in “String cheese” packaging, which can be a fun way to snack!
Nuts are also great because they are naturally low in sugar, high in “good fats” and don’t get stuck in the deep grooves of our teeth.
Fresh vegetables such as, carrots, broccoli and bell peppers are another great snack choice due to them being full of vitamins and antioxidants! Although it can be a struggle to get kids to eat most vegetables, offering a dipping sauce, like ranch, can turn them into a yummy snack that most kids enjoy.
Other great tooth-friendly snack options are smoothies, avocados, apples, and blueberries!
Worst Snack Choices for Healthy Teeth
Snacks that are sticky, like raisins and other dried fruits, can get stuck in the grooves of the teeth. This can cause an increase in the duration of exposure to sugar on the teeth and can harbor other plaque and bacteria. Making sure your child drinks water or milk with those sticky snacks can help wash out the grooves of the teeth and decrease the sugar that is sitting on the teeth.
Other snacks that tend to stick in the grooves of the teeth are crackers, chips and most candies. Goldfish is an extremely popular snack, but we recommend that your child drinks water after eating them to help keep their teeth clean.
Another important topic to discuss is overall sugar intake. Did you know that it is better for your child’s oral health to eat the whole chocolate bar in one sitting rather than eating small bites of it throughout the day? The same goes for drinking juice, soda, and sports drinks. The increased exposure and duration of sugar (no matter what form) throughout the day results in a longer amount of total time in the mouth, which results in a high risk for getting cavities. So, if your child is drinking juice, soda, and sports drinks, we recommend that they drink it all in one sitting, and also drink water along with it to help wash away the sugar.
Healthy Foods for Healthy Teeth Tips
- Good snack choices for healthy teeth: cheese, nuts, and fresh veggies!
- Avoid snacks that easily get stuck in the grooves: dried fruit, crackers, and other processed foods
- Drink lots of water after meals and snacks to wash away residual food debris
- Try to eat treats in one sitting instead of throughout the entire day
Dr. Dana grew up in Portland and went to Temple University in Philadelphia, PA for dental school. She then moved to Anchorage, AK for her residency in Pediatric Dentistry. Dr. Dana takes a holistic approach to pediatric dentistry & is able to use her own parenting experience to sympathize and understand each family’s unique dynamic.