8 Foods & Drinks That Can Damage Your Kids’ Teeth And Gums

Child on her dental visit | Milllburn Dental Arts | New Jersey

During the summer, your kids will be eating at many places: home, a friend’s house, the mall, theme parks, and more. And without that lunch time in schools, it can be tough to remind your kids to sit down and eat. Instead, they tend to grab something quick to eat and drink, then get back to something fun.

Summer Foods Can Hurt Teeth

The problem is that this can hurt your kids’ teeth. Sure, they know to skip sugary soda and candy. But what about pasta sauce, energy drinks, and diet soda? Dr. Krosser practices family dentistry here in Millburn, NJ. That means he has the training and expertise to know how to help your kids have healthy teeth and gums. Here are eight foods and drinks your children should skip to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

  • Ice cubes and crushed ice: This one might surprise you. Sure, it’s just water. Drinking more water is a healthy thing that everyone should be doing, kids included. However, chewing on ice is not something anyone should do. It’s just too hard. When you chew on cube or crushed ice, you are wearing down the enamel on your teeth. Chewing a piece of ice every now and then isn’t too bad. Chewing ice regularly will create worn spots on your teeth. Those increase your chances of getting tooth decay. It can even make accidents worse by breaking along those worn spots. If you need more water, just drink some.
  • Popcorn and kernels: It’s traditional to have popcorn at the movies. However, they’re usually full of carbs, salt, and oil. Those are never good for you, but popcorn can put your teeth at risk as well. Bits of popcorn always seem to get stuck between your teeth. This can hurt your gums, but it can also stay there for too long. Unless your child is really good at flossing, that bit of popcorn can feed harmful bacteria for a long time. Also, unpopped kernels can hurt your teeth if you bite down on them hard enough. How many times have you grabbed some popcorn and found some unpopped ones in there?
  • Pasta sauce: Yes, the traditional tomato-based sauce for spaghetti can be bad for your teeth. There are several reasons. Most sauces in the US have a lot of sugar, and you know how sugar can be bad for your teeth. But tomatoes are very high in acid. It can irritate your gums, making it easier to get gum disease. That acid also weakens your enamel. Tomato sauce also darkens your teeth by staining the enamel. If you feed your kids lots of pasta sauce, you could be hurting their teeth and gums. You can even be setting them up for needing teeth whitening.
  • Diet soda: Many parents believe diet sodas are healthy because they do not contain all of that sugar. Better said, diet sodas are more healthy. That doesn’t mean they’re actually good for you. All soda is high in acid. That’s what makes them taste tangy. Studies have shown that extracted teeth placed in a cup of diet soda will corrode the tooth just like acid. The more diet sodas your kids drink, the more damage they’ll do to their teeth.
  • Energy drinks: These drinks are very popular with kids, especially teenagers. It’s easy to see why. They’re full of caffeine and vitamins to give a fast, powerful boost of energy. However, that’s not all that’s in there. Most energy drinks boost their energy-giving ability with pure sugar. If you allow your child to have energy drinks, make sure they are sugar-free. Otherwise, it’s just like drinking soda.
  • Sports drinks: These do not have sugar. They do not have acid. Then how can these hurt your teeth? One word: carbohydrates. Sports drinks are designed to keep you active, so they are full of carbs that you have used while being active. Carbs are almost identical to sugar. In fact, the bacteria that thrive on sugar also love carbohydrates. Chugging a sports drink is just like chugging sugary soda.
  • Fruit juices: This one is somewhat of a conundrum. Fruit juices are healthy, right? Well, they are full of vitamins. But they are also full of sugar. Even unsweetened juices have a lot of natural sugar. The more fruit juice your kid drinks, the more sugar is being washed over the teeth. That’s like ringing the dinner bell for the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.
  • Potato and corn chips: Ah, the staple of many summer picnics. Most kids will happily eat a whole bag of chips if given the chance. Besides the nutritional problems with these snacks, there are dental problems as well. Both potato and corn chips are full of carbs, which the bacteria behind tooth decay love. But these chips can also be surprisingly sharp. If you bite down on them in the wrong way, they can injure or even cut your gums.

At our Millburn, NJ dental office, we offer complete family dentistry. Call us today at (973) 957-1604 to make an appointment for your children. Early detection is the key to keeping your children’s teeth healthy.

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