It’s that time of year! Whether you’re celebrating Easter or Passover—or both—the plethora of sweets available to your children can post challenges to their dental well being. Because we know that grandparents and other well-meaning relatives will ply them with candy, check out the options below to help you steer clear of the Worst Sweets for Teeth!
The Worst Sweets for Children to Eat
- Dried Fruit
While dried fruit seems like it should be a healthy treat, truth is, it’s as bad as candy if not worse, as the sticky texture literally “glues” the sugar to the teeth, exposing them to nonstop attacks on the dental enamel.
- Candies That Take a Long Time to Eat
Candies like lollipops, Tootsie Rolls, gumballs, or solid milk chocolate coins or bunnies actually cause more harm than eating larger quantities of candy over a shorter period of time. Sucking on chocolate or sugary candies is like bathing the teeth in sugar.
- Sticky Candy
Sticky candies like caramels cause the same problems as dried fruit—the stickiness lets the bacteria proliferate until the teeth are brushed at home. Plus, it’s likely that pieces get stuck between the teeth—if the child doesn’t do a good job flossing, it remains there, literally eating away at the dental enamel.
The Best Sweets for Children to Eat
- Dark Chocolate
Dark Chocolate is defined as chocolate that’s 75% cocoa or above. This means less sugar! If you start your kids off with dark chocolate, they will not learn to like the more sugary versions! Some studies show that certain properties in chocolate strengthen enamel better than fluoride!
- Candies With Nuts
Nuts are great at breaking up the stickiness of candy bars, as it’s not just the sweeteners in candy that make them bad for teeth, it’s the length of time that the sugars maintain contact with the dental enamel. Nuts help break up the biofilm on the teeth, thereby decreasing contact.
- Homemade treats made with coconut sugar or monk fruit sweetener
These two sweeteners pose a lower risk of dental damage than does sugar. If you’re worried about exchanging these sweeteners for sugar in recipes, you’ll be relieved to know it’s almost a 1:1 swap.
Quick Tips to Handle Candy Overload
- Rinse the child’s mouth after eating candy
- Eat cheese to help absorb some of the candy’s acid
- Eat candy at one sitting instead of spreading it out all day; it shortens exposure
- Wait to brush 30 minutes after eating sweets. Sounds odd, right? This is because you can, literally, brush the acid (created from the sugar) into the teeth.