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By Dr. Saleh Al-Daghreer

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Topics: Pediatric Dentistry

Sugar is in everything these days. It’s becoming harder and harder to maintain your family’s oral health because the deck is stacked against you at the grocery store. Cookies, cakes, and ice cream are obvious offenders; however, look closely at labels and you’ll find sugar in ketchup, canned vegetables, and bread!

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Sugar is an important part of a person’s diet, so don’t let this information throw you into a panic. All it means is when it comes to your family’s oral health, consider your options and try to avoid the worst foods and drinks, so you can enjoy those that contain it but aren’t going to cause major dental problems.

Here are five foods and drinks that are bad for your children’s teeth—and are best to be avoided.


1. Carbonated Beverages & Sports Drinks

If you’ve ever taken a big swig from a can of pop, then you’ve experienced the major sugar overload inside. But not only are carbonated beverages full of sugar, they’re acidic, which means they’re also weakening your tooth structure, as well as helping the build-up of plaque.

Sports drinks, lauded for their electrolytes, are just as bad with high sugar levels and additives.


2. Cookies & Crackers

Another obvious contender, cookies are so delicious because they’re made with a large amount of sugar. But what you may not know is that crackers, even those that are not sweet, start breaking down in the mouth and produce acid that can dissolve tooth enamel.

The risk is increased if kids are nibbling on these kinds of crackers throughout the day. Carb-rich crackers are the kind most likely to cause harm.


3. Sticky & Gummy Sweets

It may seem obvious that gummy sweets like caramels or gummy bears are high in sugars, but part of the problem is that they literally stick around in the mouth for hours after eating.

Residue from the candy sticks to the mouth and gums, leaving the teeth exposed to the sugar for hours. Sugar, when eaten, should go through the mouth as quickly as possible. Sticky candies create pockets that will slowly eat away at the structure of your teeth.

If your children have eaten sticky or gummy sweets, it’s best to get them to brush their teeth immediately.


4. Starchy Foods

Starchy foods like white bread, potato chips, or French fries are made with sugar and have a tendency to get lodged between teeth. While not sweet themselves, these starches will begin to convert into sugar in the mouth as part of the pre-digestive process.

The danger of heavily starchy foods is that you’re not often thinking of them as a danger to teeth. Brushing after eating pasta will help, but also searching out alternatives like whole wheat bread or mashed potatoes will improve your family’s oral health.


5. Dried Fruits

Fruits are usually great for your health—but if those delicious grapes have been dried, you’re getting into dangerous territory. When all the water is removed, they become like gummy treats getting lodged between teeth. Fruits are already high in natural sugars (which is good) but without the water, they become highly concentrated. The fruit also contains non-soluble cellulose fibre, which can actually trap sugars around your teeth, potentially making them worse than gummy candies.

There’s a plethora of nasty foods that taste oh so delicious but are secret destroyers of teeth. When it comes to your family’s dental health, understanding your enemy is the first step to ensuring everyone keeps a healthy, full smile well into adulthood. Finding a great ally in a pediatric dentist can also help.


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Dr. Saleh Al-Daghreer

Dr. Saleh Al-Daghreer, BDS, PhD, FRCD (C), an Edmonton Orthodontist who is a registered specialist and a fellow of the Canadian Royal College of Dentists of Canada in the specialty of orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. He received his undergraduate degree in Dentistry in 2003 and his PhD in Orthodontics in 2012 from the University of Alberta. He founded City Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry to provide care in the City of Edmonton.

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