Sugar Free Snack Ideas for Kids
We all know that sugar contributes to tooth decay. However, there’s more to it than that. Some generally healthy foods can be worse for your teeth than, say, a chocolate bar. Timing comes into play, too. Eating sugar during a meal isn’t as bad for your teeth as a sugary snack between meals.
How Tooth Decay Works
Cavities are caused when harmful bacteria in your mouth interact with carbs that you eat. These carbs aren’t just sugar; they can also be breads, potatoes, or other starch-based foods. When they interact with bacteria, they create an acid byproduct which damages the tooth’s hard outer enamel layer.
Brushing and flossing regularly helps us to limit the amount of bacteria in our mouths, and clear out sugary food particles between meals. Our body also has natural defenses, like saliva, which neutralize the acid. However, saliva can’t do everything, and how many of us actually brush after every single thing we eat?
Improve Your Child’s Dental Health with Tooth-Healthy Snacks
Sugar eaten between meals can linger on the teeth longer and do more damage, so it’s especially important that your child’s mid-meal snacks are healthy for both their teeth and body. Remember that if it’s a carb that also sticks to teeth, like crackers or craisins, it can be just as bad as candy for your child’s teeth.
Here are some great ideas for sugar-free snacks that will help support your child’s dental health instead:
Carrots and ranch dip: The crunchy texture of carrots are great for teeth! The fibrous material scrubs the surface of our teeth without sticking.
Peanut butter and celery: Peanut butter can be a little bit sticky, but when you pair it with water-rich celery, it doesn’t stick to teeth.
Apple slices: Fiber-rich apples have a similar effect to carrots, scrubbing the teeth and stimulating cleansing saliva production. Additionally, apples and carrots both contain flavonoids which can help support your immune system against bacteria and disease. This helps your dental health as well as the rest of your mouth.
Cheese strings or cubes: You know how you were always told to drink milk for strong teeth and bones? Well, the same rule applies for cheese! Calcium-rich foods build up tooth enamel and strengthen root connections.
Frozen grapes: These are some of the best summer snacks for school-aged children. Grapes automatically turn into miniature, self-contained popsicles after sitting in the freezer for a few hours.
Yogurt: Yogurt is another great source for calcium, as well as important probiotics. However, make sure to read the label. Many kid-focused yogurts include a lot of excess sugar.
Chocolate: Now, maybe we’re mislabeling this, because it’s certainly not sugar-free (unless it’s really dark chocolate.) However, if your child is craving something sweet, chocolate is a much better alternative to sour, chewy, and hard candies. It’s relatively low in sugar, and doesn’t stick to the teeth like other sweets. So, for your child’s dental health, choose a Hershey’s bar over the Laffy Taffy.
Keep a few of these snacks readily available for those inevitable moments between meals when your children want something to munch on. They’re easy to prepare, and certainly are better at curbing cavities than goldfish crackers or cheerios.