There is only a month or so of school left and summer is upon us. The days are longer and the sun is shining hot. It is important to stay hydrated during the hot months coming up. Dehydration can be a serious medical issue if left untreated. Any dentist will tell you that the best drink choice for teeth is water. Water not only helps to remove food debris from your teeth and gums, it keeps your body hydrated. A hydrated body feels better and clean teeth do too!
Drinks like soda or juice are not only high in sugar, they can be very acidic as well. The carbonation in sodas is not healthy for teeth either. If your child likes the flavor of lemonade, a common summer beverage, it’s ok to drop a lemon wedge into their plain water to get some of that same flavor. This really limits the acidity and the sugar found in ready-made lemonade. It is much better to drink that beverage in one sitting than to sip on it all day. The more times the sugar or acid is introduced to the tooth, the more likely the tooth can get a cavity.
Many kids are out of school during summer and are hanging out at home. Summer snacking is a common occurrence during these times especially when it is too hot to play outdoors. Video games and YouTube seem more popular with kids and along with these inside activities comes snacking all day. Helping your child choose healthy snacks and beverages is one of the keys to maintaining a healthy smile.
Healthy snacks are also something we should try to encourage at home. High carbohydrate foods such as crackers or chips can be harmful to teeth. These items tend to turn sticky once mixed with saliva during chewing (ask me how times a day I identify leftover Cheese Its or Goldfish crackers in a child’s mouth!). This sticky substance that forms from high carb foods will stick to teeth like glue. It takes real effort for parents to remove that sticky food, using a good toothbrush and a watchful eye.
Better choices to offer your snacking child include fresh fruits (summer berries are sweet and notorious) and vegetables. Growing a garden at home can encourage your kids to become excited about eating fruits and vegetables. A good way to encourage those healthy choices is to keep those types of food and beverages within reach. Clear, plastic containers that are easily accessible to your child in the fridge or pantry will encourage healthy eating habits. Quite simply, if the unhealthy choice is not available, most kids will eat the healthy option that is.
As with any mindful advice, not everyone is perfect and no summer would be complete without trips for frozen yogurt or ice cream or a hotdog during a summer BBQ. Everything in moderation, however, will go a long way to saving your child from future cavities. Here’s to a great summer ahead with good food choices and lots of water!
Dr. Jamie Sahouria is Rohnert Park’s only full time, board certified pediatric dentist. She works at 1303 Medical Center Drive, where she and partner doctors provide dental care and braces for kids and adults. Dr. Jamie is a Rohnert Park native and is a proud graduate of The Ranch. She can be reached via her website at www.BrushFlosssSmile.com