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Cavity Culprits: Can You Identify Which Foods are the Worst Offenders for Kids’ Teeth?

By March 25, 2024April 5th, 2024Blog

Hands down, the foods your kids eat play a crucial role in their oral health — whether for good or bad. That’s why your Naperville pediatric dental team at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry wants to highlight the worst and best foods for your kids’ teeth so you know which foods to serve and which to stay away from.

Foods High in Sugar? Oral Health Enemy #1

The worst foods for teeth are the ones high in sugar. Oral bacteria thrives on sugar and in processing it, produces acids that weaken tooth enamel which can then lead to cavities. Foods high in simple sugars like sticky candies, sugary drinks, and fruit juices lead the charge.

What about complex sugars, like carbs? When it comes to dental health, the simple answer is, yes, starchy foods also promote plaque. As this 2021 study shows, simple versus complex sugars have the same effect on teeth health and tooth decay.

Give Your Teeth a Break!

We can’t forget to mention that how often you eat plays a role in your teeth health. Your saliva needs time to neutralize the acids produced by the sugar-eating bacteria and bring your oral environment back to a balanced pH. So constant snacking? Not good for cavity prevention in kids. A good rule of thumb is allowing two hours between meals and snacks.

The Sour Stuff: Another Cavity Contributor

Acidic foods like citrus fruits and sour candies can also contribute to weakening your kids’ enamel and contribute to cavities in your kids’ teeth.

A Reminder About Healthy Foods For Your Kids’ Teeth

Go on the offensive and help your child build strong and healthy teeth and gums with foods rich in Vitamins A, C, and D, along with calcium and phosphorus. Vegetables and fruits, whole grains, lean protein, dairy or dairy alternatives, and healthy fats all have vitamins and minerals for promoting healthy teeth. Plus, crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots act like toothbrushes, scrubbing away plaque and stimulating saliva while you eat.

Quiz Time! Which Foods Are the Worst for Teeth?

Now that you’ve had a crash course on the best and worst foods for teeth, test what you know by answering these four questions!

1. Which snack pairing represents the worst foods for your kids’ teeth?

  1. Skittles and a soda
  2. Cheese string and salami
  3. Apple slices and orange wedges
  4. Crackers and natural peanut butter

Answer: A) Skittles and a soda. This is the worst food pairing for kids’ teeth as they both are high in sugar (and the soda is acidic, too). BTW, check out our list of teeth-happy snacks for kids.

2. Which of these would contribute the most to tooth decay?

  1. Whole grain bread
  2. Milk chocolate candy bar
  3. Hot dogs
  4. Grapes

Answer: B) Milk chocolate, because it’s full of sugar and sticks to teeth. Grapes come in second because of their acidic pH level.

3. Which drink should be consumed in moderation to prevent the tooth enamel erosion that can lead to cavities in kids?

  1. Milk
  2. Water
  3. Carbonated soft drinks
  4. Sweet tea

Answer: C) Carbonated soft drinks. Soda and fizzy drinks often contain high levels of sugar and are acidic. Sweet tea and milk follow because of the added sugar in the tea and the lactose in milk.

4. Which of these breakfasts is the worst option because of its high sugar content?

  1. Oatmeal with honey and raisins
  2. Scrambled eggs with spinach
  3. Whole grain toast with avocado
  4. Greek yogurt with fresh berries

Answer: A) Oatmeal with honey and raisins. While oatmeal can be healthy, adding honey and raisins increases its sugar content.

More Cavity Prevention from your Naperville Pediatric Dentist

Got the jist of the best and worst foods for your kids’ teeth? Great! Now take cavity prevention for your kids to the next level with regular check-ups and cleanings with your pediatric dentist. Book your next visit with the award-winning dentists at Innovative Pediatric Dentistry and we’ll help bring out your little one’s best smiles.