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What are the worst foods for kids’ teeth? The answer might surprise you

Kid-ing with Kayla — Did you know popular kid snacks like Teddy Grahams, Ritz and Goldfish crackers are equally or sometimes more damaging to a kid’s teeth than fruit snacks? Indiana Dentist Dr. Matt Pierce said, “The carbohydrates in these are a food source for cavities and other bacteria in the mouth. Unfortunately, children in the toddler age range are not great at clearing the food paste from their teeth leading to an increased cavity risk!”

Of course, fruit snacks are also bad and so is fruit juice and milk, Dr. Pierce said.

“Much like any other sugary and ‘gummy’ food these tend to stick to children’s teeth and are not cleaned off properly. So, the benefit of a gummy multivitamin is sometimes outweighed by the harm it causes to their teeth.

Fruit Juices are equivalent to some sodas! The American Medical Association actually came out saying many fruit juices provide little to no nutritional value. Sadly, much like soda and other beverages the acidity and sugary content of most fruit juices is more harmful than good. When these acids and sugars sit on teeth for prolonged periods of time or even overnight if in a bottle in the crib/bed it can cause serious harm to teeth.

Milk: While we all like to think of milk as inherently good it can actually cause a lot of harm to teeth if it similar to fruit juices it sits on teeth too long. Many young children go to bed with milk in a bottle or cup and the sugars and carbohydrates in the milk can sit on the teeth and cause rampant cavities and decay in children’s mouths.”

So, what can you do? Dr. Pierce said brush their teeth immediately after consuming those snacks or at they very least, have them drink or swish around some water in their mouth.

Kayla Sullivan posted a video of her toddler running away from her as she tried to brush his teeth. It’s a common problem with little ones. Dr. Pierce said there are multiple ways you can combat this issue:

“I recommend starting the habit of brushing when your child is an infant by having them lie down in your lap with a child toothbrush or a finger brush (this is like a small toothbrush made of silicone that fits on your finger to make brushing an infants teeth easier for the adult). Even with no teeth present, this gets the child into the habit of having their teeth and gums brushed early on and more compliant later on in life. Once a day initially increasing to morning and night if able when teeth erupt. A great time to start out with is after their bath wrap them in a towel and have them lie in your lap to brush. This also really helps them transition into being seen at a dental office which we normally recommend once teeth start to erupt. I also like to encourage the parents to bring their kids to their own cleanings and dental visits to see the dentist doesn’t have to be scary at all! A non-fluoridated toothpaste is recommended during the initial stages and once the child is able to properly spit out the tooth paste and not swallow it then parents can transition to a fluoride containing tooth paste.

A lot of brands have a kids specific that is a non mint flavor because its too “spicy” for most kids and does not contain fluoride. As far as when kids should be brushing their teeth on their own, I think a good rule of thumb is if they can’t tie their own shoes then they likely don’t have the manual dexterity to properly brush all surfaces of their teeth. Meaning they may need some help from a parent or adult in those situations. 

Fun shaped Flossers (dinosaurs and other shapes) are also a great way for kids to start thinking of flossing which they should be doing once teeth erupt if they are in contact with each other. Again its a small way to start setting good habits in them for their adult lives. Having an electric toothbrush with a timer and making a fun game out of it also works really well for a lot of children. Think of it like potty training, it takes a lot of time and effort to get where you want them to be but there are always ways to make it more fun and enjoyable for the children.”

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