Healthy Snacks

Back to School with a Smile!

It’s that time of year again! School supplies are purchased (and labeled!), new clothes are ready for those school pictures and the first day of school is upon us. We’ve put together a few tips on how to start the school year off with your best foot (and best smile) forward!

  1. Be sure to start the school year with a dental exam and cleaning. Some schools require that a child entering 4K or Kindergarten have a dental exam before the year starts. Even if that is not the case, be sure your child has their preventative visit before school starts or as soon as possible. If there are any issues, you want to catch them early and not have your child experiencing dental pain while trying to focus on their school work. 
  2. Put up a brushing calendar for your kids! School is all about accountability and hitting goals. A brushing calendar to monitor their daily brushing habits will fit right in. Post this in the bathroom or their bedroom and encourage them to use crayons or stickers to mark down every time they brush. If they get a full month of brushing for 2 minutes, 2 times a day, consider adding a reward for them. See one below!
  3. Pack tooth-healthy lunches and snacks! It’s easy to pack processed foods in your child’s lunch because it’s quick, but remember that fresh fruits and vegetables are also quick and are a much better option for your child’s teeth and overall health. A few healthy options are: cheeses, cucumbers, apples and carrots. These will not only keep your child’s teeth healthy but also give them a great pick-me-up in the middle of the school day!

With a few simple steps you can ensure that your child starts the school year with their best smile possible! Have a great school year, everyone!

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It's Still Summer! Who Needs a Routine?! (Hint: We all do!)

Here we are in mid-August (can you believe it?) and there’s a good chance that summer has gotten the better of many of our routines. Going to bed, waking up, when we eat our meals … all of these things, and more, have become less routine for many of us as the summer has worn on. And yet, in a matter of weeks, we will all be in “back-to-school” mode. Fall will be upon us and many of us (not naming names) will be needing to get back on schedule ASAP.

That makes this a great time to be sure that your oral health care routine gets back on track before the craziness of fall hits. There are a few simple things to do to make sure you are ready:

First: Be sure to get back on your brushing and flossing habits! Brush two times a day for two minutes, morning and night and floss one time a day. Using a fluoride toothpaste can help!

Second: If you are squeezing in some last minute travel plans, take healthy snacks with you. Apples, oranges, bananas and cheese sticks are all easily transportable, make great on-the-go snacks and are healthier for your teeth and body than processed foods. If you are bringing pretzels or chips with you, try to add cheese to the snack also. Starting these snacking habits now will help you transition into some great school lunch snacks also!

Third: Keep travel size toothbrushes, paste and floss with you or in the car for day-trips or spur-of-the-moment plans! It is fun to be spontaneous but not-so-fun to skip brushing or flossing so set yourself up for travel success!

Lastly: Drink water! Whether you are on the road, at home or starting school again, drinking water throughout the day is one of the easiest things you can do to maintain your dental health!

Regardless of what your daily routine ends up looking like, be sure your brushing routine stays strong!

Keep on Sharing Smiles- Tips on How to Maintain Your Smile!

In February we focused a lot on how to take care of your teeth when we did our school visits to celebrate Children’s Dental Health Awareness Month. The truth is, being able to maintain our smile and care for our teeth at home is just as important for adults as it is for kids. And, it’s not too difficult to do!

  1. Be sure your home care is off to a good start! Brush your teeth for 2 minutes, 2 times a day, every day! Removing the build-up from the day is hugely important in keeping the enamel of your teeth strong and your teeth healthy.  In addition to brushing twice a day (morning and night), floss your teeth once a day. A good amount of your total tooth structure exists between your teeth and, without flossing, you will never be able to remove the daily debris. Use your favorite floss or water flosser once a day and you will be showing some love to your teeth!
  2. Be sure to see your dentist regularly for your regular check-ups! Just as you brush your teeth TWO times per day, you should visit your dentist TWO times per year. Many people like to wait until they are in pain or have a broken tooth. If you wait until you have pain, you usually have a large amount of decay that has caused it. It is best to see your dentist on a set schedule, so that if there is any decay, we catch it early, and while it is still small and easy to remove. You should also know that if you have any form of periodontal (gum) disease, your dentist may want you to come in more frequently until there is improvement in your gum health. 
  3. Watch what you eat and drink! While genetics does play a role in how healthy our teeth are, it is more likely that what you eat and drink more greatly affects your teeth. For instance, drinks like soda, sports drinks, juice, coffee and tea are all acidic and they make your teeth more likely to get decay. It is hugely important that the main drink that you sip on all day is water, and that after you do have a coffee or other acidic drink, you rinse with water. Alternatively, snacks like cheese are the opposite of acidic and can make your mouth less susceptible to decay. So, adding cheese to your crackers could be benefit for your teeth. Here are some “go-to” snacks and some “sometimes” snacks that you should be aware of. Eat from the blue colume frequently and the other columns, well, just sometimes. 
This snack guide is courtesy of  TheDentistDad.com . Remember to eat LOTS from the blue column and only sometimes from the other two columns!

This snack guide is courtesy of TheDentistDad.com. Remember to eat LOTS from the blue column and only sometimes from the other two columns!

Remember- your mouth plays a big role in your overall health and taking care of your smile is a great step in taking care of YOU!

My kids tend to get cavities, but I don’t let them eat candy. Why?

From the desk of Dr. Leah Hollaway:

Let’s be honest, any given grocery store has tons of options for snack food. Many of these options may not be very healthy for our teeth, especially for kid’s teeth!  It can be hard to buy snack food that children will eat and enjoy that won’t cause cavities.  Something that should be super easy can seem very complicated.

Before we get to what we are eating, let's talk about how frequently we are snacking throughout the day. Continuous grazing for hours on end puts you at much higher risk of getting cavities than if you have structured meal and snack times that last for 5-25 minutes. By having structured meal/snack times and drinking only water in between, your mouth gets to rest and maintain a healthy environment in between eating times. A healthy mouth environment means that it is harder for bacteria to cause tooth decay, which is exactly what we want for our children!

When choosing snacks for our children, we need to know that candy is not the only bad thing for our teeth. Processed foods, like potato chips or cookies, and foods that are considered carbohydrates put our teeth at a higher risk of getting cavities. This is because carbohydrates contain simple and complex sugars that bacteria use to turn into plaque and acid, which in turn, makes our mouth environment more unstable and prone to decay.  Carbohydrates are still something that children need because they provide energy for growing bodies, but eating them during structured meal times can lessen their negative effect in the mouth. Other snacks might be particularly sticky, such as fruit snacks, and therefore harder to remove from between teeth. These remain in the mouth longer, providing a food source for bacteria in our mouths, and making the mouth more prone to decay.

Some variables to think about when deciding if snack is good or bad for teeth are:

1- Does the snack contain carbohydrates (sugars or starches)?

2- How long does the food stay retained on the teeth/is the food sticky?

3- How quickly is this food eaten?

 

As an example, let’s think of fresh fruit vs. dried fruit:

Fresh fruit, like an apple:

1- Does contain sugar/carbohydrates.

2- Doesn’t generally stay on the teeth long because it’s crunchy.

3- Usually is eaten within a five minute period.

Dried fruit, like raisins:

1- Does contain sugar/carbohydrates.

2- Stays on teeth for a long time, especially in grooves, because it’s sticky.

3- Can be snacked on/carried around with a child for a long period of time.

 

Overall, when considering snacking, dried fruit is a worse snack for your teeth compared to fresh fruit because of the amount of added sugar and how sticky it is. The good news is that it doesn’t get much easier than throwing some carrot sticks or apples into your bag before you leave the house! Food that contains natural sugars are always better than processed foods with added sugars.

One of the best snacking foods available is cheese. This is great news for us here in Wisconsin and it is a readily available snack almost everywhere. The reason cheese makes such a great snack is that it has protective features for our mouth. It tends to keep the environment of the mouth less acidic and therefore not conducive for bacteria and decay. Even when combined with a carbohydrate snack like crackers, cheese works to protect our teeth and keep a healthy mouth environment.

Almonds and cashews, which can come in a variety of flavors, are another great option for kids who crave crunchy snacks. The same can be said about fresh vegetables like broccoli, celery, or carrots, and all of these are pretty portable if you are on the go.

It isn’t always easy to switch out a kid’s favorite snack food so quickly. But by limiting portions, pairing the snack with cheese, or adding a green or crunchy vegetable, the snacking will be not as detrimental to their teeth.

One last thing to look out for is hidden sugars included in processed products. Yogurt is usually viewed as a healthy food, but in a 6 oz container of yogurt, there can be up to 26g of sugar! The same holds true for fruit juice, yogurt drinks and many soft drinks and sports drinks. When buying these foods, try to be aware of sugars that are added for flavoring. Try to make a habit of looking at sugar amounts in all of your food and you’ll start to be an expert at finding out where the hidden sugars are. If you do consume these types of foods and drinks, it is always best to eat or drink them in a short amount of time and avoid grazing or sipping on them throughout the day.

Here is a great snack guide from The Dad Dentist for you and your children to help you pick the best snacks for your teeth.

Snacking Guide courtesy of TheDentistDad.com

Snacking Guide courtesy of TheDentistDad.com

The blue column contains snacks that won’t cause cavities because bacteria cannot use them to create plaque or acid. The yellow column contains snacks that generally will not cause cavities and the orange column contains snacks that put your teeth at a higher risk of getting cavities. Try to pick snacks in the blue and yellow columns, but don’t forget that an occasional snack in the orange column is okay! There are healthy foods, such as oranges and bananas in the orange column that have tons of important nutrients and vitamins … just be aware of how often these snacks are being consumed and try to drink water between all snacks and meals.

If you ever have any questions about your child’s snacking habits or any concerns about their dental health, please ask. We are here to serve you!

-Leah Hollaway D.D.S.