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Some Junk Food Can be Good for Your Child's Teeth

NEW YORK, March 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- If there's one thing that all dentists have in common, it's that they regularly see young patients with tooth decay. Roughly 41 percent of children age 2-11 have had decay in their primary teeth, while approximately 32 percent of children ages 9-11 have decay in their permanent teeth.

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According to Marc Liechtung, DMD, principal in New York-based Manhattan Dental Arts, there are many foods that can help or harm your child's teeth.  Here are the Good and the Bad:

THE GOOD: Here are some foods, even "junk foods," that can help with your child's oral health:

  • Unsweetened hulless popcorn.  This treat acts as a natural tooth detergent in addition to being highly nutritious and loaded with vitamins and minerals. Its calcium phosphorus supplies valuable minerals and roughage and helps to exercise the teeth.
  • Chew gum with xylitol. It helps reduce bacteria which lead to tooth decay. A few pieces of a gum such as Dentyne Ice leave no plaque-causing sticky residue, changes the chemistry in your child's mouth and can actually help keep cavities away.
  • Sugar-free lollipops and hard candies. These treats stimulate saliva, which prevents dry mouth. A dry mouth allows plaque to build up on teeth faster, leading to an increased risk of cavities.
  • Sip sugary drinks through a straw.  This helps your children to limit the amount of contact the sugar has with the teeth.
  • Foods that provide calcium and phosphates. Yogurt, milk and cheese can strengthen the tooth's surface.
  • Some foods neutralize acids. Those include pears, apples and dairy, especially cheese.

THE BAD:  Here are some food-based causes of tooth decay in children:

  • Drinking from a bottle. When children drink from a bottle, the liquid sloshes around their teeth and gums, and any drink with sugar in it will increase the chance of decay. So only put milk and water in a bottle. At bedtime, it's especially important to put only water in the bottle. That's because prolonged exposure to the sugars in milk can cause cavities, too.
  • Sippy cups. Limit the amount of time that your child has a sippy cup in her mouth, especially if it is filled with juices which are high in sugars and acids. Try substituting water instead.
  • Sticky foods. Foods like Skittles, Starburst candies, gummies and dried fruits linger on the teeth, giving the bacteria extra time to cause damage.
  • Long-lasting sugars. Lollipops, Jolly Ranchers and cough drops allow the sugar to remain in the mouth for a prolonged period.
  • Starchy foods. Foods like French fries, white bread and pretzels easily lodge between teeth and are quickly converted to sugar by the pre-digestive saliva.
  • Acidic foods and drinks. Such as soda and fruit juices eat away the healthy enamel of teeth.

The foods that damage teeth have been shown to damage overall health, and the foods that are favorable to teeth tend to be favorable to health. No surprise. This is just one more reminder of why we should be teaching our children early on the importance of eating well and avoiding sugars.

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SOURCE Manhattan Dental Arts

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