2. Chewing, food tastes and stimulation gets saliva to flow. This saliva bathes the teeth and helps remove the acid. Calcium then returns to the teeth causing some repair. Eating full meals or chewing sugarless gum or mints increases the amount of saliva in the mouth.
It is not only what children eat and drink but how often they eat and drink that helps cavities form.
Children who snack or drink often are bathing their teeth in acid most the day. As well, very little saliva flows into the mouth. The acid remains on the teeth longer and attacks the teeth. Eat full healthy meals. Limit snacking as much as possible.
Most people think that sugar is the main cause of cavities. In fact, some types of cooked starch do just as much harm and cling to the teeth for much longer.
The starches in foods like breads, cereals, crackers, pasta, and potato chips coat and cling onto the teeth. It is best to have these foods only at mealtimes when the other foods and drinks will help clear them from the teeth. Parents often give young children crackers for a snack because they have more food value than chips or candies. Do not give your children crackers to keep them quiet or busy. They are not good for the teeth. In the same way, using the bottle or sippy cup as a pacifier can promote cavities.
The best snack choices:
- Cheese, preferably lower fat, is a good choice. Cheese makes saliva form. Saliva clears and acts against the harmful acids in foods.
- Studies show that cashews and peanuts fight plaque and the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Be careful about giving nuts or small hard round pieces of fruit or vegetables to young children. Children can choke very easily. The risk of choking is greatest with children under four years of age.
- Raw fruit and vegetables are a healthy choice but do contain sugar. If you want to give your child a sweet treat, plain dark chocolate does the least damage. It dissolves and clears from the mouth quickly.