It’s another warm day in Scottsdale, AZ, and you’re packing snacks for your family’s day out. As you scan what is in your pantry, you notice that the majority of your readily available snacks are loaded with sugar and carbohydrates. Having recently visited your dentist, you were reminded of how damaging these snacks might be to your children’s oral health. Last year, your family needed more fillings and cleanings than you expected. How can you replace these cavity-causing foods with more nutritious substitutes to facilitate healthier teeth and gums?
The Sugar Problem
Products high in sugar are easily accessible on shelves at the grocery store. They are especially appealing because they are marketed to families, taste great, and often provide additional convenience through individual packaging. Snacks like fruit gummies, chips, cookies, and pastries might seem like easy solutions to most parents’ hectic schedules. However, this convenience comes at a cost. Not only are children’s teeth more exposed to sugar, and therefore bacteria, but these cavity-causing foods also tend to lack adequate nutrients. Young children require a balanced diet to support healthy growth. Here are two categories of healthy substitutions that can satisfy your children’s nutritional needs.
Curb Sugar Cravings
Often, your children may come home tired and hungry after a long day at school, looking for something sweet to snack on before homework or dinner time. Rather than providing iconic milk and cookies, try these healthy alternatives to appease your child’s sweet tooth in a healthier way:
- Apple sauce
- Mixed berries
- Sliced pineapple or melon
- Chia seed pudding
Sometimes even natural sugars are not the answer. Rather than feeding a sweet tooth, you may be able to redirect it with these flavorful substitutes:
- Mixed nuts
- Kale chips
- String cheese
Meet Your Child’s Calorie & Protein Needs
Growing children require a substantial calorie and protein intake every day. Therefore, children can easily crave calorie-dense foods that may harm their oral health. However, there are healthier ways to meet those needs. Consider the following quick meal options that will provide them with the calories and protein they need for a long day at school or the playground.
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Turkey avocado roll-ups
- Pita bread/carrots/bell peppers and hummus
- Meat and vegetable stir-fry
It can be challenging to stay on top of your child’s oral health needs while meeting the demands of a busy schedule. With these simple snack choices, you can rest assured that they will receive the nutrients they need to support a healthy smile.
About the Author
Dr. Veronica Martinez specializes in meeting children’s dental health needs. As a mother herself, she understands the struggle of keeping up with an entire family’s oral health in our fast-paced, modern world. Running pediatric dentistry, Dr. Martinez is accustomed to protecting and restoring the smiles of children with or without cavities. If you have questions about which foods can contribute to a healthier smile, feel free to contact her at (480) 448-1461 or through her website.