Summer-Time Snacks and Your Child's Dental Health Body

Summer-Time Snacks and Your Child's Dental Health Body
Posted on 07/15/2021

July-BlogHow can summertime sweets and treats impact your child's teeth? Frozen fruit juice and creamy dairy delights can lead to dental issues if your child isn't careful. While you don't need to completely cut out all summertime sweets, take a look at what you need to know to keep your child’s mouth healthy.

Which Summertime Treats Are the Worst for a Child?

There's no simple answer to this question. But the worst offenders all have some things in common — the possibility of dental damage and the increased likelihood of decay. This means when you select the best (or try to eliminate the worst) summertime sweets, consider:

  • Texture and your child's ability to bite. A frozen popsicle has the texture and hardness of a small block of ice. Even though this summertime favorite should dissolve as your child eats it, some kids can't wait. If your child bites into a hard popsicle, they could chip a tooth or cut their mouth on a sharp shard.
  • Length of time to eat the item. Will your child spend minutes on end whittling away at a popsicle? This bathes your child's teeth in a steady stream of sugar. Avoid frozen treats that need to melt over long periods of time or will stick on your child's teeth.
  • Sugar content. Sugar feeds the bacteria in your child's mouth. As the bacteria digest sugar from popsicles, ice cream, or other frozen treats, the microorganisms make acid. These acids eat away at dental enamel (the outer coating of the tooth) and can lead to cavity formation.

 

How do you know what the sugar content is? If you're not sure whether the ice cream sundae in your child's after-dinner bowl or the popsicle you are about to hand out for snack-time is packed with decay-causing sugars, check the nutrition facts. This will provide you with information on the carbohydrate and sugar contents of the items inside the box or other packaging.

According to the American Heart Association, children ages two through 18 shouldn't have more than 25 grams of sugar per day.

Is Fruit a Safe Summertime Snack for a Child?

Yes — and no. Now that you know more about the reasons to avoid typical summertime sweets such as sugary ice cream and popsicles, you want to learn more about healthier alternatives. Instead of packaged, processed foods, your child can snack on fresh fruits.

Fruits are healthy for your child's body and teeth. The fiber in some fruits can help to clean your child's gums and increase saliva flow. This washes your child's teeth naturally — but doesn't replace routine dental care. Even though fruits are healthier alternatives to other summer treats, some options aren't as beneficial as others. Before you feed your child a fruit treat this summer:

  • Consider the sugar content. Fruit is filled with natural sugars. This means your child shouldn't suck on an apple slice or overindulge in banana bunches. Some fruits, such as citrus, are also highly acidic. The acids in oranges, grapefruits, and other similar citrus selections can damage dental enamel and lead to decay.
  • Only choose fresh options. Canned or jarred fruit is often packaged in a sugary syrup. This syrup is just as bad (if not worse) for your child's teeth as a sugar-packed popsicle or bowl of chocolate chip ice cream.
  • Avoid sugar-added juices. You choose to make your own popsicles instead of buying ready-made treats. But if you freeze sugar-added fruit juice, your child is still at risk for dental decay. If your child enjoys juice or you make juice pops, use a whole-fruit or sugar-free option.

 

Along with the sugar content, consider the risk for dental damage — especially if you freeze fruit or fruit juice to make your own refreshing treat. A hard, sharp, or frozen piece of fruit can easily chip or crack your child's teeth.

Is Ice Cream a Healthy Summertime Sweet?

Ice cream is one of the most popular summertime sweets. Even though ice cream is a sugary food, it's also a calcium-rich dairy pick. The sugar and calcium contents of ice cream can make this summer selection a contradictory treat for kids to eat. Before you serve your child a heaping bowl of two or more scoops:

  • Limit the serving size. The calcium and phosphates in milk and other dairy items (such as ice cream) can help to re-mineralize your child's teeth. But this benefit doesn't necessarily outweigh the sugar content. Minimize the risk for dental decay and limit your child's ice cream intake.
  • Skip the toppings. Chocolate syrup, whipped cream, gummy bears, and sprinkles add sugar to the mix. Instead of a full sundae, choose plain ice cream.
  • Choose a plain product. Toppings aren't the only way you can add extra sugar to your child's ice cream treat. Chocolate chip, candy flavors, and other similar options increase the sugar content.

 

Reserve this sweet as a once-in-a-while treat or consider a no- or low-sugar frozen yogurt option.

Does your child need summertime dental care? Contact Dentistry for Children & Adolescents for more information.

DentistryforChildren&Adolescents

Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

  • Edina Office - 7373 France Ave. S., Suite 402, Edina, MN 55435 Phone: 952-831-4400
  • Burnsville Office - 14050 Nicollet Ave. S., Suite 100, Burnsville, MN 55337 Phone: 952-435-4102
  • Minnetonka Office - 6060 Clearwater Dr., Suite 210, Minnetonka, MN 55343 Phone: 952-932-0920

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