Here is a list of ways sugary snacks affect your teeth. Be careful before you binge on them.
- What's wrong with sugary snacks, anyway?
Sugary snacks taste good — but they are not good for your teeth or your body. The sugar candies, pastries, cookies, wafers and other processed foods that kids love to eat between meals can cause tooth decay. Some processed foods have a lot of fat in them, too. Kids who consume sugary snacks eat many different kinds of sugar every day, including table sugar (sucrose) and corn sweeteners (fructose). Starchy snacks can also break down into sugars once they're in mouth.
- How do sugars attack your teeth?
Invisible germs called bacteria are commensals in your mouth and are present all the time. Some of these bacteria form a sticky material called plaque on the surface of the teeth. When you put sugar in your mouth, the bacteria in the plaque gobble up the sweet stuff and turn it into acids. These acids are powerful enough to dissolve the hard enamel that covers your teeth. That's how cavities get started. If you don't eat much sugar, the bacteria can't produce as much of the acid that eats away enamel.
- Note to parents
Raw food has less decay-causing potential. However, knowledge to date indicates that they are less likely to promote tooth decay than are some of the heavily sugared foods children often eat between meals.Candy bars aren't the only culprits. Foods such as pizza, breads, and hamburger buns all contain sugars. Check the label. The new food labels identify sugars and fats on the Nutrition Facts panel on the package. Keep in mind that brown sugar, honey, molasses and syrups also react with bacteria to produce acids, just as refined table sugar does. These foods also are potentially damaging to teeth.
Your child's meals and snacks should include a variety of foods from the basic food groups, including fruits and vegetables; grains, including breads and cereals; milk and dairy products; and meat, nuts and seeds. Some snack foods have greater nutritional value than others and will better promote your child's growth and development. However, be aware that even some fresh fruits, if eaten in excess, may promote tooth decay. Children should brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste after snacks and meals. (So should you!)
Please note: These general recommendations may need to be adapted for children on special diets because of diseases or conditions that interfere with normal nutrition.