Summertime brings along delicious treats, and many – like fresh fruit and vegetables – are healthy too. But there are some refreshing seasonal foods and drinks that can damage your child’s teeth (yours too!) if consumed too frequently. You may want to avoid the items listed below, limit consumption, or substitute for a healthier snack.
1: Ice Cream
Dairy, and some non dairy alternative ice cream, has plenty of calcium, which is essential for healthy teeth and bones. The bad news is that it’s usually high in sugar too. Sugar feeds oral bacteria that then releases acids which weaken tooth enamel. Look for low sugar ice cream or fruit sorbets or make your own at home to control the sugar levels. After the kids have finished their treat, have them rinse their mouths with water to help remove the sugar from their teeth. And beware of ice cream with sweet, gooey add-ins, like caramel or chocolate fudge, as these foods tend to stick to teeth, exposing them to even more sugar.
2: Sports Drinks
Sports drinks often boast that they hydrate you and provide energy-boosting carbohydrates. But those carbs can come from high fructose corn syrup and sucrose. Check the grams of sugar on the label. Water is a much better way to hydrate, and providing high quality “good carb” snacks – fruit, veggies, whole grains – can give an energy boost without the dental damage (and sugar crashes).
Chewing on an ice cube may seem like a great idea on a hot summer day, but it can cause cracked and chipped teeth, damage to tooth enamel, problems with existing dental work such as fillings and crowns, and sore jaw muscles. And while crushed ice with flavored syrup (known as Shaved Ice, Italian Ice, Water Ice, Raspa, Granita, Slushies, Snow Cones, Snowballs, etc.) is less damaging than crunching on cubes, these treats are often high in sugar. You may want to indulge infrequently and rinse with water after consuming. For a healthier snack, consider making healthier ice pops at home (you can even transform a green smoothie into a frozen treat!), or look for low-sugar ones at the store.
Popcorn shows up at summer events like sports games, fairs, carnivals, family movie nights and other festivities. It can be a healthy snack if you skip the butter and salt, but the hulls – those rugged, rounded shells you find on corn kernels – can easily slip into the tiny gap between teeth and gums and are often very hard to remove. Left to linger, they can cause inflammation that can often develop into a painful, pus-filled sac. You don’t have to avoid popcorn but be aware that it can cause problems and head to the dentist ASAP if you do experience pain in your gums, teeth or jaw.
5: Iced Tea
Black, oolong, and green tea can be really good for your overall health, with antioxidants that support healthy brain function and heart health too. But tea can also be acidic, which erodes dental enamel. Herbal tea flavored with fruit seems safe and healthy, but it can be very acidic. And sweet iced tea can be a dental nightmare – sugary and acidic. Try to limit consumption to a glass a day and follow up with a plain water rinse to neutralize that acid.
Healthy Summer Smiles
Don’t forget to schedule a dental visit for this summer. A checkup prior to a vacation trip can help spot problems that may ruin your holiday, and it’s a good time to talk to your dentist about treatments like braces – many parents opt to start orthodontic treatment in the summertime. You may also need proof of a dental screening before returning to school.
Are you wondering how you can afford regular dental care for your whole family, including expensive treatments like braces? Consider joining a dental savings plan. Plan members can save 10-60% on most dental procedures. Reach out to us at 1-833-735-0399 if you have any questions about how a dental savings plan can help you save money.