Dr. Steffens would like to provide you with some helpful hints on nutrition and healthy snacking for you and your family!!
When you or your child eat or drink sugars, the germs (bacteria) in your mouth mix with the sugars to create a mild acid. This acid attacks the hard outer layer of the teeth called the enamel. It can make holes or cavities in the teeth. The damage that sugars cause depends on how much sugar goes into the mouth and how long it stays in the mouth. Any kind of sugar will mix with germs in the mouth.
Natural sugars have the same effect on teeth as white or refined sugar right out of the bag. Many healthy foods also contain natural sugar like milk. If you put your child to bed with a bottle of milk, the milk stays in the mouth for a long time which may cause cavities. Unsweetened fruit juice may have no added sugar, but fruit juice has natural sugars in it.
If you or your child are always sipping juice between meals, the teeth are being constantly bathed in sugars. The most ideal drink in between meals is water. Please try to read the labels of packaged foods that you purchase. If sugar is listed as the first ingredient, you know that there is more sugar than anything else.
Also, please remember to check if liquid medicines such as cough syrup have sugars. Ask you doctor or pharmacist if they can provide you with sugar-free alternatives.
TIPS ON HOW TO CONTROL YOUR SWEET TOOTH
- Please try to cut back on the sugar in your daily diet. I recommend using less sugar or no sugar in coffee and tea. Avoid pop and juices especially in between meals. Water is a great beverage!!
- Please try to use alternatives such as liquid sweeteners or xylitol instead of real sugar.
- Please try to eat sweets at meal time instead of in between meals. This is to help control the length of time your teeth are exposed to sweets. The amount of sweets eaten is not as important as the duration of time the sweet food is in your mouth. If you eat sweets at meal time, this increases the saliva flow in your mouth. The added amount of saliva produced will help to wash away and dilute sugar. This all assists in protecting your teeth.
- Please try to stay away from sweets such as gum with sugar in it, toffee, caramels and hard candies such as lollipops. These sugary foods will stay in the mouth for a long time and can help produce cavities. Also, please avoid other sticky sweets that may get stuck in the mouth like raisins, rolled-up fruit snacks or fruit leather.
- Please try to choose sugar free foods such as sugar-free gum. Try to have good snacks handy for you and your children. Have carrot sticks, small fruits and vegetables or cheese cubes on the bottom shelf of the fridge for your children. My children also love small boxes of nuts or seeds and whole grain cereal. Try to keep them in a low cupboard if you have young children. Please remember, if you do not have unhealthy snacks in the house, you cannot give them to your child. So please try to buy healthy snacks and avoid buying too many sweets. If you do serve sweets, please remember to serve them at meals when there is more saliva in the mouth. This will help to wash away the sugars.
- Please be conscious of labels: check ingredients for different types of sugar such as honey, molasses, liquid invert sugar, corn syrup, corn sweeteners, dextrose, sucrose, glucose and fructose.
Since oral hygiene is a major concern for all of us, Dr. Steffens has provided you with a list of some healthy, yet delicious alternatives when it comes to snacking!
1. Low Fat Cheese / Cheesesticks
2. Cheddar or Cottage Cheese
3. Hard boiled eggs or devilled eggs
4. Nuts –I prefer sliced almonds (not wholen or slivered almonds) and chew slowly please!
5. Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds-chew slowly please!
6. Air Popped Popcorn **no butter/salt**-avoid unpopped kernels please and eat slowly please!
7. Frozen Yogurt
8. Plain Yogurt
9. Veggies With low fat dip or dressing such as: Carrots, Celery Sticks, Cherry Tomatoes, and Cucumbers.
10.Fruits such as: sliced apples, strawberries, bananas, and oranges.
11. Beverages such as: Water served in between meals . Plain milk, Buttermilk, and Unsweetened Fruit Juices at mealtime.
12. Wholegrain Bread
13. Melba toast
14. Cereals low in sugar such as wholegrain cereals which contain fiber (Cheerios in the yellow box is Dr. S’s fav!!)
15. Pretzels-chew slowly please!
16. Tossed salad
17. Canned fish
19. Muffins (plain and low in sugar)