Healthy Snacks for Your Little Ones

Problems with oral health are an unfortunate result of sugar consumption and improper oral care. According to the Indian Dental Association, it is important for children to limit the number of times they eat snacks each day. Every time they eat a snack, plaque produces acid that can lead to tooth decay. All foods (and beverages other than water) cause plaque acid to form. Sugars are particularly harmful.

Tooth decay occurs when the natural bacteria (plaque) in your mouth interact with deposits left by starchy and sugary foods. When these meet, acids are produced, and over time your tooth enamel may weaken and dissolve, allowing cavities to develop. Low-sugar snacks, combined with a healthy toothbrushing regimen, will help eliminate your child's risk of contracting dental diseases and put cavities at bay.

Fight the Effects of Sugar

The tactics of eliminating sugary chocolate bars and biscuits, and steering clear of favourites such as white bread, still leave a long list of healthy snacks and meal options that are high in fibre and rich in calcium and that will not create a platform for tooth decay. 

Grains

Foods and snacks made with oats, grains and bran, such as multigrain bread, granola, oatmeal porridge, brown rice and air-popped popcorn boast zero artificial colours, zero artificial flavours and zero preservatives and are low in sugar. Many cereals rich in whole grains have 3 to 6 grams of sugar per serving and are packed with vitamins (B and C), minerals and fibre. To find the healthiest, low-sugar bread and granola, look for bread products that say "100% whole grain" or "100% whole wheat." When looking for granola, pick items that are marked "low-fat" and "sugar-free" and that contain protein and fibre. This way, you know you are getting a product that is nutritionally beneficial and gentle on tiny teeth.

Vegetables

Kids and vegetables do not always go together. But when you pair them with rice or pasta or dip them in a tasty dressing, they become more acceptable to little ones. In addition to being a great source of nutrients, raw vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, bell peppers, grape tomatoes and spinach are naturally low in sugar, unlike tinned and packaged vegetables. 

Meats, Beans and Proteins

Always high in protein, the low-carb/no-carb section of the food pyramid — catering to meat, nuts, beans and dairy — is virtually free of all sugars. Food items such as skinless chicken, lean beef, black beans, seafood, low-fat cheese sticks, cheese slices and unsalted nuts and sunflower seeds give your kids the proper amount of protein without all the sugar.

Fruit

From apples to blueberries, the freshness and flavour of fruit is a wonderful part of a balanced diet. That is why fruits that are low in sugar, such as strawberries, dried apples, avocado, cranberries, blackberries and raspberries are perfect treats to help prevent cavities when paired with a proper oral health routine. Sunflower seeds, unsalted nuts and sugar-free chocolate chips are also fun and delectable treats for your kids.

Sticking with a Sugar-Free Plan

Taking the appropriate steps toward preventing tooth decay is an important parental decision. While eliminating sugar altogether is not necessary — we can all use a sweet treat sometimes — cutting back on your child's sugar intake by replacing fizzy drinks, overly processed snacks and simple carbohydrates with healthy snacks that are low in sugar and high in nutrients is key for instilling smart eating habits in your children.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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Tips for a Healthy Diet

  • Foods high in sugar are a particularly common cause of tooth decay. Making these foods a treat rather than a staple will help protect your teeth.

  • To maintain a balanced diet, eat a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups.

  • When choosing a snack, go for nutritious foods such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt or a piece of fruit.