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Teach Your Kids How Certain Foods and Drinks Affect Their Smile

The wrong foods can do major damage to those pearly whites.
The wrong foods can do major damage to those pearly whites.

A smile is worth a thousand words. OK, maybe it's a picture, but you know what we're trying to say. A smile is how we non-verbally communicate pleasure to those around us and nothing is quite as gratifying -- or as attractive -- as showing off a mouth full of pearly whites. But kids may not fully understand the importance of taking care of their teeth in their early years, so it's up to parents to make sure they're eating the right kinds of foods and drinking the right kinds of drinks. It's not easy, because most of us will agree that a chocolate chip cookie is a bit tastier than a bowl full of peas. But if you can instill in your kids the importance of eating the right foods for good dental health while they're young, you will ensure a lifetime of healthy teeth and winning smiles.

Kids are used to hearing that too much sugar will rot their teeth. That was the refrain from our parents growing up, and it's important knowledge to pass on. It's a no-brainer to skip the candy and the cookies more often than not, in lieu of a healthier snack, but did you realize that fruit juices are often loaded with sugar that can contribute to tooth decay? Water and milk are much better choices. Foods that stick to teeth can also be detrimental to dental health because they cause tooth decay. So, things like dried fruits, cereals, chips and crackers should be served in small amounts, and a good brushing immediately after eating can them help, too. This is all a good primer in watching out for what not to eat and drink but what about encouraging kids to consume foods and drinks that affect their teeth in a good way?

Water is probably the most important thing to teach your kids to drink. Water stimulates saliva production, which is your mouth's natural defense against bacteria that results in plaque and eventually cavities. Fruits and vegetables are also great for your mouth as well as your body, so they should always be a first choice snack. That being said, though, citrus fruits like oranges and pineapple should be served in limited quantities because their acids can erode tooth enamel. Cheese is also a great snack. Not only is it full of calcium which is great for your enamel, but it also neutralizes acids that eventually lead to tooth decay.