Finding healthy treats for teeth can be difficult in a busy world. The holidays are approaching, and this means an increase in sugar consumption for many people. When you place special treats around the house for family and guests to graze on, chances are you’ll be munching on the morsels as well. In the spirit of the upcoming holiday season, your Dr. James Fondriest, would like to advise you of the best (and worst) sweets for your teeth.
Chew on Crunchy Veggies and Fruits
If you’re prone to snacking, you could also be putting your waistline – and your oral health – at risk. Instead of sugary treats, or even packaged foods that often contain surprisingly high amounts of sugar, consider fresh fruits and vegetables, instead. Both are packed with nutrients you need to stay healthy, and most are naturally low in sugar and high in water. Chopped veggies are a great option, and adding a nutritious dip like hummus or peanut butter can help create a balanced snack that will keep you full enough to more easily pass up tempting treats. Consider pairing fresh fruit with something filling, like a handful of nuts, or a no-sugar-added yogurt or cheese, which provides valuable nutrients like calcium and an added dose of protein, which helps satiate.
Carrots, celery sticks, and apple slices are particularly good choices, from a dental standpoint. Fresh produce is always a healthy choice for cooking meals and snacks. That said, summer is a particularly great time to reach for fruits and vegetables, since so many are in season. Seasonal produce is at its peak flavor and also nutrient-value. Cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple and many berries are freshest in summer. So are peaches, nectarines and apricots. Many of these fruits make great, refreshing snacks for picnics or time by the pool. They also taste wonderful when grilled. Squash, beets, corn, cucumber, and eggplant are just a few of the vegetables in season over the hot summer months. They make great inspiration for healthy seasonal meals. Pair them with lean proteins and healthy fats, to create well-rounded meals that will keep you full, and provide you with many nutrients!
Enjoy Cold not Frozen Treats
When really trying to cool down, you may be tempted to reach for frozen treats. Just keep in mind that anything too hard, including ice, can be damaging to teeth. It’s better to choose soft options, and those with little sugar, since sugar can contribute to cavity development. Consider refrigerated fruit slices, in lieu of sugar popsicles, or cold, not frozen yogurt mixed with fresh fruit, instead of ice cream.
Treats that Won’t Leave You Aching
- Sugar free lollipops and hard candies These sweets increase salivary flow, which prevents dry mouth. Plaque builds up on your teeth faster when your mouth is dry, leading to an increased risk of cavities.
- Sugar free gum Chewing gum can actually help prevent cavities by freeing food particles that are stuck to the teeth, while also stimulating saliva, which neutralizes the acids of the mouth and prevents tooth decay.
- Dark chocolate Recent studies indicate that the antioxidants in dark chocolate can be good for the heart and may possibly lower blood pressure. Just remember to eat in moderation.
Steer Clear of These Candies
- Sugary treats This includes candy corn, candy canes, cupcakes, and cookies. Sugar is a major contributor to tooth decay.
- Sticky/chewy/gummy sweets Taffy, caramel treats, and even dried fruits will get lodged in the crevices between teeth and set up camp for cavities to form. They can also damage previous dental work.
- Sour candies These treats are extremely acidic. In fact, some sour candies are as acidic as battery acid, according to the Minnesota Dental Association. Acid causes irreversible damage to tooth structure and eats away at tooth enamel, which is the protective outer layer of the tooth.
Drink Lots of Water
Water is important to the whole body. That includes the smile. If you’re not hungry, and inclined to snack just as a social act, keep a glass of water with you instead of a plate. It can keep you hydrated and help prevent you from mindless eating. Drinking water throughout the day can help to gently rinse your teeth clean in between daily brushings. Water also helps you avoid chronic dry mouth, which can be irritating and lead to an increased risk of developing dental issues, like cavities.
So, rather than drinking sugary beverages like sodas, which can be particularly problematic for the smile, stick to water as often as possible. It’s a healthy choice for both your smile and your body.
For more dietary info and list of healthy treats for teeth, call us
Besides watching what you eat, you should always brush twice daily, floss daily, and attend regular dental checkups. To schedule an appointment with your Chicago cosmetic dentist Dr. James Fondriest, contact us at 847-234-0517 today. Our dentist is located in Lake Forest and serves patients from the North Shore suburbs.