how to choose healthier snacks

How to Choose Healthier Snack Options for Kids

PGA Smiles Children

how to choose healthier snacksPalm Beach Gardens and Jupiter, Florida

Sugar certainly tastes good, but it is not so good for our teeth. Even though your child may love sweet treats, it is what makes the bad bacteria in their mouth multiply, increasing the risk of tooth decay. We understand that finding healthier snack options for your child can be challenging, and quite exhausting if you are dealing with a picky eater, but here are some tips for what to avoid, and how to choose healthier, tooth-friendly snack options for your child. You may even want to try these for yourself!

Know the Limits

The truth is that most people ignore food labels, and are unaware of the daily-recommended allowance for sugar. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that people over the age of 3 consume no more than 12.5 teaspoons of sugar a day. Just to give you an idea of how much sugar that equates to, it is about one can of soda. ONE! Many people, children included, consume far more than the recommended daily allowance.

Skip the Juice

Many parents believe that fruit juice should be part of their child’s daily diet when in fact juice still contains sugar. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children between the ages of 1-6 receive no more than the equivalent of one juice box per day, and children older than that should not receive more than two.

An even more important factor to consider is how often throughout the day your child consumes juice. Even if you water the juice down, so your child technically consumes only one juice box full of juice per day, if he or she is sipping on it throughout the day, your child is essentially coating his or her teeth in sugar all day long. So, allow your child juice once and be done, no sipping on it throughout the day, or night.

What to watch out for:

Gummy or sticky fruit snacks are an easy, go-to snack option for children. However, these sticky snacks are the worst option in terms of oral health. In fact, any food that is sticky increases the risk of tooth decay. Even dried fruit such as raisins! So, even though you may think dried fruit is a “healthier” option, it is not doing your child’s teeth any good.

Crackers and chips are basically like cookies with salt. These snacks are loaded with carbs, which means that our bodies, including bacteria in the mouth, break it down into sugar. Also, crackers and the like can easily stick into the grooves of teeth, which harbors bacteria that cause tooth decay.

So, what should my child eat?

Try encouraging your child to consume fresh, crunchy vegetables such as carrot sticks, celery stalks, or other vegetables they prefer. If your child must consume some of the above-mentioned snacks that are harmful to their teeth, just be sure to serve these snacks in moderation, and ensure your child brushes after eating them.

Lead By Example

Be sure that you are setting a good example by choosing healthier, tooth-friendly snack options for yourself. You and your family can still indulge in crackers, chips, and cookies from time to time, but do so in moderation, and be sure that you each follow through with good oral care afterward. As always, remember to visit the dentist twice a year for routine checkups and cleanings.

To schedule your next appointment, please call the office of PGA Smiles at (561) 627-7090.

PGA Smiles is here to serve patients in the areas of Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.