For most parents, child dental care is all about striking a proper balance. We all want our children to enjoy themselves and not be restricted on a regular basis based on things like food limitations, but at the same time, the habits ingrained in your kids at an early age can set the baseline for a lifetime of healthy – or unhealthy – oral care.
At Southridge Pediatric Dentistry, we’re all about helping you achieve that balance. Our preventive care services are all about preventing big issues before they crop up, and we extend these through various bits of expertise we can offer parents. One area we’re often asked about: Fast food. Even as a dentally conscious parent, it’s okay to give your kids a fast food treat every now and then – especially if you know a few tricks to keep things on the healthier end when it comes to oral care. Here are a few.
Skip the Bun
The most common fast food item is the burger, and it generally comes between two white bread buns that have been mass produced. This bread is made from a sticky starch, one that can remain on teeth for hours even after the meal is finished. This effect causes bacteria to build up on the teeth, which is the primary cause of tooth decay and cavities.
To avoid this, consider skipping the bun. If your child enjoys it, look to lettuce or other wrap alternatives. If not, think about options like chicken nuggets or something without a bun to begin with.
Choose Drinks Carefully
One of the top sources of sugar at fast food restaurants is the soda machine. Sugar and acid can both damage tooth enamel and lead to significant issues, and these are found in copious quantities in soda. Look for alternatives like water and milk, which are far healthier for the teeth and gums.
Alternatives to Fries
Remember our discussion about starch above? It goes double for French fries, which are incredibly starchy and also come with a higher risk of getting stuck between teeth than burger buns. If at all possible, avoid fries and look for alternatives.
Most fast food restaurants today offer several such options, including fresh fruit. They almost all offer salads as well, and these are great options – they’re healthy for teeth based on the fiber present in their greens, which naturally scrubs the teeth and helps keep them free of bacteria. If your child likes cheese, add a bit of that to their salad to increase their protein and calcium content, both of which help increase tooth strength.
Some people want to get a shake every time they hit a fast food joint, but we recommend against it, especially for your children. We mentioned the risks of sugar above, and these kinds of desserts are absolutely loaded with it. Fruit is always a better alternative.
For more on keeping this as healthy as you can with fast food for your children, or to learn about any of our pediatric dental services, speak to the staff at Southridge Pediatric Dentistry today.