While your child’s nutrition is a priority year-round, we love any opportunity to celebrate good health and recognize its importance in your family’s life.
March is one of those opportunities, as it’s National Nutrition Month!
Nutrition and healthy eating impacts every function of your body. From lowering cholesterol and improving your immune system, good nutrition can also help you and your children have clean, healthy teeth!
Many snacks that aren’t good for your body are bad for your teeth, too.
Snacks that are high in sugar and carbs like cake, juices, candy, and cookies can cause a sticky build-up of bacteria on your teeth, called plaque. And when left untreated, plaque can cause tooth decay and other painful infections.
For every food to avoid, there are plenty of tasty snacks to replace them with that can improve children’s dental health.
Instead of sugar packed frozen yogurt, for example, you could freeze Greek yogurt with strawberries!
With article after article announcing new health risks, knowing the best food for teeth can be overwhelming.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be! With the right balance and variety of healthy foods and some planning, you and your family can gain healthy eating habits that in turn make for a healthy mouth.
Take the first step toward a diet that includes delicious, teeth-healthy snacks with these 4 fun treats your kids will love (and you too!).
1. A Yummy Parfait
If your child has a sweet tooth and you want to avoid candy, a fruit and yogurt parfait can be the perfect solution. It’s also quick and easy to make, making for a great snack in a pinch!
This parfait is packed with ingredients that help clean and strengthen teeth.
Fruit & Yogurt Parfait Recipe:
- The calcium in yogurt helps strengthen teeth. Use nonfat Greek yogurt and avoid sugar-packed ones.
- According to the American Heart Association, children and teens age 2-18 should have no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day.
- The average children’s yogurt has about 11g of sugar, or just over 2 and a half teaspoons. Greek yogurt, however, has only 5g, just over 1 teaspoon.
- Almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts are all great for helping fight the bacteria that causes gum disease (painful inflammation and swelling of your gums).
- Strawberries are high in vitamin C, which helps keep teeth strong and prevent gum inflammation. They also contain a lot of fiber, which scrubs the teeth
To make a parfait, first put a layer of yogurt (1-2 inches) in a cup, bowl, or mason jar (if on the go!) of your choice. Follow it with a layer of berries, another layer of yogurt, then a layer of nuts for an added crunch.
2. Veggies and Hummus
Hummus is a wholesomely healthy snack for your whole body, and it’s an especially good food for teeth! The chickpeas in hummus are high in protein without containing saturated fats, so it can help strengthen your teeth without the risk of a sticky, plaque-causing debris that certain fats can cause.
It’s also high in folic acid, which helps support cell growth and strengthens your teeth even more!
As for dipping, replace crackers (which have plaque-causing glucose) with cucumbers. Cucumbers are healthy snacks that have multiple perks for teeth:
- They’re high in fiber, which helps “scrub” and clean teeth.
- The juice of the cucumber helps maintain the balance of acids in your mouth. If your mouth gets too acidic, it makes it harder to heal small cuts in gums that can be caused by brushing too hard, flossing incorrectly or scrapes from foods like chips.
- Eating cucumbers can help keep gums healthy as well as ease the symptoms of gum disease.
If you’re having a hard time getting your children to eat veggies instead of crackers (we’ve all been there), try sweet potato chips.
Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, which helps keep a healthy amount of saliva flowing so your mouth is able to wash away food particles and bacteria.
Vitamin A also encourages a healthy production of mucus, which helps coat and protect your gums and teeth. Oh, and did we mention that sweet potato chips are delicious?
3. Fruit and Cheese Butterfly
Photo courtesy of myfoodandfamily.com
Your kids won’t think twice about eating healthy with this fun and tasty snack.
Special bonus: You don’t have to be a Rachael Ray to make it! Preparation takes under 5 minutes per butterfly.
This is another snack with healthy and tasty ingredients that can improve the health of your teeth.
- The combination of calcium and phosphate in cheese makes it ideal for strengthening teeth.
- Like cucumbers, cheese can also help balance the acids in the mouth.
- Strawberries are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential to the development of blood vessels and tissue health, which in turn helps with the health of your gums.
- In fact, sometimes bleeding gums are a sign of a vitamin C deficiency.
- The combination of calcium, vitamin C, phosphorous, and iron make grapes a superfood for teeth.
- The Chicago College of Dentistry found that grapes not only help strengthen your teeth, but can help strengthen the fillings inside them, too!
To make this special butterfly snack:
- Place 1oz of bite size cheese in one half of a sandwich bag, and grapes and strawberries on the other half.
- Wrap a pipe cleaner around the middle so the 2 ends are on the same side.
- Twist the ends together, then turn the tips outwards opposite one another to resemble butterfly antennas.
These snacks are so easy you can get your kids involved in making them too! Try other teeth-friendly combos like dark chocolate and almonds for a dessert butterfly, or apples and kiwi for a colorful one. Feel free to get creative!
4. A Tooth-Friendly Smoothie
When it comes to drinks that are good for your teeth, smoothies are a common family favorite, and for good reason! Where else can you find a satisfying drink that’s filling and healthy?
When it comes to your teeth, it’s important to be extra mindful of the ingredients you include in your smoothie.
It’s not just refined white sugar that’s bad for your teeth. The combination of sugars and acids in some fruit can cause tooth damage and plaque build-up as well. It’s best to balance fruits with other teeth-friendly snacks to help balance things out.
For a smoothie that will help, not hurt, your teeth, add these tasty ingredients:
- Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is flavorful, low in sugar, and packed with teeth-strengthening calcium and phosphates.
- Green tea: Green tea is full of antioxidants to help keep your mouth and body clean by flushing toxins. The polyphenols it contains also help break up bad bacteria.
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil acts as an antibacterial which helps prevent plaque and infections.
- Low-sugar fruit: Berries are a great go-to for low sugar fruits that have the benefits of vitamin C. Apples, pears and bananas are some of the other best fruit for your teeth.
- Leafy Greens: Leafy greens like spinach and kale are packed with nutrients that help improve oral health. They have calcium for strengthening teeth as well as folic acid and vitamin B to help keep gums clean and inflammation-free.
Smoothies are a fun snack you can get creative with. Once you have your head wrapped around the healthy foods for teeth, your smoothie possibilities are endless!
Congratulations, your spring just got a little better.
General Tips for Healthy Snacks for Your Teeth
When it comes to eating foods that are good for your teeth, you’ll first need to replace the ones that are harmful like crackers, cookies and other carb and sugar-filled treats.
From calcium-rich foods that help strengthen teeth to ones with vitamin C to help the blood flow and composition of gums, there are plenty of foods out there that are working for, not against your oral health.
To recap, here’s a quick and easy shopping list for tooth-friendly foods so you can come up with your own recipe!
- Sugar-free dairy products like cheese and milk
- Fiber-rich foods that scrub teeth, like apples, pears, carrots, and cucumbers
- Coconut oil and other foods with antibacterial properties
Most importantly, don’t forget to hydrate! Hydration helps keep your salivary glands healthy, which can help wash away bacteria. Plus, the fluoride in water can help strengthen teeth.
When something as simple as replacing a few sweets with some healthy treats can help save you and your children time, money and stress, what’s the downside?
Not only are these snacks great for your teeth and body, they’re also tasty and easy to make! Your kids might just get on board with preparing them for themselves next time they get hungry.
Even when preparing healthy snacks there’s a slight risk of a toothache occurring in your children. By being prepared with knowing the causes, prevention and treatment, you can be on top of that, too.
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