The Fourth of July offers a fun-filled day of fireworks, parades and food that little kids love. From funnel cakes to candied apples to cotton candy, there are plenty of sugar-filled food items that kids can choose from. Unfortunately, though, the yummy food that we see throughout Independence Day festivities can be detrimental to kids’ teeth and oral health. Sugary foods allow bacteria to grow on teeth and acid to destroy tooth enamel, which leads to tooth decay and cavities. While you’re out celebrating with the kids, it’s important to safeguard your children’s teeth from the effects of candy and sugary foods. Find out what you can do to celebrate Independence Day without sacrificing your family’s oral health with these tips!
Our teeth are the hardest substance in our bodies, but even they can deteriorate under the constant attack of plaque. Little kids’ teeth are especially vulnerable to tooth decay and cavities, which affects their oral health now and in the future. What foods kids eat greatly determine if and how many cavities they will develop, so it’s important that parents are monitoring how much and what type of food their children are consuming each day. During the Fourth of July, it can become difficult to monitor what your kids are eating and if they’re getting the proper nutrition they need to build healthy teeth and bodies. Whether you’re boating on the lake or sitting at the parade, one way that you can protect your child’s teeth is by giving them healthy snacks to eat. Unfortunately, most snacks that kids tend to crave, like chips and candy, are high in simple carbohydrates and sugars. One of the easiest ways to reduce your children’s sugar intake is by making chocolate, candy and baked goods an occasional treat, not an everyday snack. Kids are also less likely to brush their teeth after snacking than after a meal, so making sure that they are eating healthy snacks with smaller amounts of sugar can prevent tooth decay from forming. When choosing a snack, try using cheese, raw vegetables, fruit or plain yogurt in place of heavier snacks to get enough vitamins and minerals in their diet. It’s recommended that kids fill half of their plate with fruits and vegetables for each meal, but sometimes that can be hard to do. Vitamin C is a necessary vitamin that our bodies need to be able to strengthen their natural functions and heal, and vegetables are one of the only ways that we can get it. Snacks in between meals are a great way to include fruits and veggies full of vitamins and minerals they need each day without forcing them to eat it all in one sitting.
Independence Day is a day of celebrating and eating, but nixing all sugary and starchy foods from your family’s diet isn’t the only way to protect their teeth. When you’re planning your Fourth of July meals, include lots of nutritious options that kids can choose from that are tasty but still healthy. Use whole-grain pasta, broccoli and peppers to create a healthier pasta salad, or try lean-ground beef, chicken or turkey for your burgers to reduce the amount of fat you’ll be eating. Instead of full-size burgers, try making sliders instead with whole grain buns. This will help control portion size and provide healthy grains at the same time. Another idea for including more vegetables involves grilling up a vegetable plate full of squash, corn, carrots, peppers and cauliflower for the family to munch on before dinner is ready. You can even throw some olive oil and your favorite seasoning on to give the veggies a nice taste that everyone will love. Don’t forget about the dessert; instead of baking pies, cookies or brownies, grill pineapple halves or peaches to use on a dessert bar with vanilla yogurt, nuts and cherries to add sweetness. This is a delicious dessert option that fulfills the sweetness that taste buds crave but without all the added sugars.
Before the festivities even begin, it’s a good idea to schedule a dental checkup for your little one. Regular checkups allow the dentist to monitor tooth eruption and possible decay, while simultaneously providing advice on how to care for your child’s vulnerable teeth. Checkups typically include a thorough cleaning and exam of the teeth to identify any underlying issues. For added protection, you can opt in for your child to receive dental sealants on their teeth, which cover the pits and grooves of teeth with a coating that blocks food particles from getting in. Additionally, make sure that your child’s toothpaste contains fluoride to keep teeth strong. Fluoride is found in most water sources and is added to nearly all toothpastes, so it’s very easy to include in your child’s everyday life. Fluoride is essential in strengthening teeth and helping them become resistant to decay, so it should be an important aspect of your kid’s oral hygiene routine.
Call Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics at (720) 887-6003 to schedule your child’s next dental checkup. Your child’s current oral health will greatly influence their health in the future, so make sure to have them checked regularly for best results. Call now!