Our TVs frequently boom with “daant sad jayenge”, “kya aapke toothepaste me namak hain” depicting mums shouting at kids to refrain from eating chocolates and other sweets. Kids are highly prone to developing cavities and other dental problems due to their diet, which is high in sugar! So is it only the chocolates that cause cavities or there are more hidden culprits? Read below to know more about cavities and the foodstuffs behind cavities in children.
What is a Dental Cavity?
Cavities or dental caries are small hollows in the teeth and may appear black, brown or grey-ish. These can be easily visible and cause pain to the person. The enamel of the teeth is eroded by certain acids which are produced from sugary or starchy substances. Certain food particles tend to lodge themselves within the teeth gaps. These remnants form bacteria which in turn forms plaque (a sticky whitish film of bacteria formed on the teeth) and this is the basis for forming the cavities.
The foods high in sweet and starch harm the enamel of the teeth. The longer these substances remain in the mouth, the greater the chances of developing cavities.
Does Chocolate Causes Dental Cavities?
We have all heard this warning from infancy till adulthood to limit chocolate consumption as it will decay the teeth. And we are aware that sweet foodstuffs harm teeth. So we go on and restrict the intake of every child’s fantasy food – chocolates. But surprisingly, chocolates may actually act as a cavity-fighting item. Research conducted at the Osaka University in Japan has found that the parts of cocoa bean, from which chocolate is made, has anti-bacterial properties, thereby fighting against bacteria and plaque in the mouth. Some dentists even suggest having chocolate milk instead! Hurray!
Top 10 Foods That Cause Cavities In Children
Below is a list of top 10 foods that cause cavities in children:
- Fizzy drinks: All the cool and hep soft drinks, soda floats, mocktails – the list is endless! These drinks are not only extremely sweet but also contain phosphorous and carbonation which erodes the tooth enamel paving way for cavities
- Toffees and sticky candies/lollipops: These work as pacifier and some restaurants even offer lollipops as the mouth freshener! Toffees, those with sticky consistency, containing caramel and nougat do not easily dissolves in the mouth and often brushing is the only way to get rid of them. Lollipops are meant to be sucked on slowly and kept in the mouth almost until the stick comes out clean
- Starchy foods: French fries, fried rice, bread jam, aloo puri etc kid’s favorites! These foodstuffs are high in carbohydrates which are ultimately broken down to sugar. Also fries and bread tend to be sticky and find space in the upper corners of the mouth
- Fruit juices: We try to save our kids from carbonated drinks by offering Frooti, Slice or Real fruit juices considering them healthier. Although these may provide some nutrition, unfortunately their sugar content is high and pose of risk of forming cavities
- Burgers and Pizzas: The burger buns, pizza dough and tomato ketchup are the sources of sugar. In addition to these, such breads are sticky and do not easily leave the tooth by swiping through the tongue
- Jellies: Some are made of concentrated fruit pulp, contain preservatives and high sugar. Kids love to suck from jellies available in various shapes and colors. They enjoy the flavour and love their mouthful of plopping jellies
- Cakes and pastries: These attractive layers of sweet loaf soaked in sugar syrup and presented in beautifully crafted cream can easily draw a tantrum from kids of any ages. Nowadays these are topped with chocolate chips, butterscotch balls, grated chocolate, silver balls etc. which are very high in sugar
- Fried sweets: Mithais such as gulab jamuns rasgullas, chamchams and double chocolate doughnuts entice young kids and are served very frequently in our households. The extremely high content of sugar and thick sugar syrup makes them one of the top foods causing cavities
- Cream biscuits: There are plenty of extra sweet biscuits, topped with sugar and sandwiched with cream that attract our young ones. Such biscuits are enjoyed by kids, and the morsels linger in their mouth. Not only the teeth turn brown, these are easily deposited at the corners of the mouth and in teeth
- Citrus fruits and juices: Young kids love the tangy taste of fruits such as lemon, oranges and tamarind. Also summers are the seasons for shikanjwi, nimbu paani, orange squashes etc. which are highly concentrated and their acidic content is high. This can easily erode the teeth enamel and cause cavities
How Can I Avoid Dental Cavities In My Child?
Encouraging oral hygiene, early in life goes a long way to safeguard your child from dental problems. Infact, a dental regime should be practised right from infancy. The key is to free the mouth from food particles as quickly as possible. It’s not practical to brush the teeth after each meal or snack, so why not make your kid gargle with a mouthwash instead? Brushing twice, once in the morning and once before going to bed should be established as a routine. Make sure to use toothpaste which has fluoride in it to prevent cavities.
Other Ways To Avoid Cavities Are:
- Avoid feeding your child sugary foods – the lesser the better
- Do not let yor saliva get into your baby’s mouth, especially if you yourself have the problem of cavities
- See a dentist every six months and press for excellent dental hygiene
Foods That Help Fighting Dental Cavities
Yes, it is true that nature is abundant with certain foods that fight the build up of plaque and help in keeping the teeth and gums healthy. Some great foods that fight tooth decay and dental cavities are:
- Sugarless chewing gum: Sugarless chewing gums when had after meals can help rinse the acids on your enamel and hence prevent plaque build up on the teeth
- Green tea: Sugarless green tea or even black tea suppresses the bacteria that causes tooth decay. Depending on what water is used for making the tea, it can also be a source of fluoride
- Fruits and vegetables rich in fiber: Foods that contain fiber help in stimulating the flow of saliva in the mouth, which helps wash away food particles from the teeth and also neutralizes the acids that can cause dental problems
- Dairy products: Cheese, milk, plain yogurt and other dairy products are abundant in calcium, phosphates and vitamin D which are important components of your teeth. These minerals help to prevent tooth decay and plaque build up on the teeth
A simple trick: You can get special children’s toothpaste or tubes with animal/cartoon shape to lure your kid into brushing and make it fun for him!