fast food and oral health for kids

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As a parent of young children, you’re constantly balancing time crunches with your desire to keep them healthy. This is particularly true within the oral care world – all parents want their children to have healthy teeth and gums, but there are situations where time might be limited and these areas might conflict.

At Children’s Crossing Pediatric Dentistry, our preventive pediatric dental services include helping with one common go-to when this is the case for you: Fast food. We don’t recommend feeding your child fast food very often, but the occasional trip when you’re in a bind is okay – as long as you’re taking some important steps toward keeping the meal mouth-healthy. Here are a few areas to consider.

Skip the Fries

While fries might be considered a mainstay of many fast food meals, they’re often some of the most harmful items to the teeth. Fries contain huge amounts of starch, which is known to stick to teeth long after meals. This kind of debris in the mouth attracts bacteria, which in turn leads to tooth decay and cavity issues.

Instead, consider alternatives that most fast food restaurants now offer to fries. Many offer fresh fruit or others that are far more beneficial to the mouth.

Try a Salad Instead

A fries alternative that’s so good it deserves its own section? A salad, which nearly all reputable fast food joints now have on their menus. Not only are salads healthier overall, they’re much more beneficial for the teeth.

This is because the greens in salad contain huge amounts of fiber, a compound that naturally scrubs the teeth while it’s being chewed. Salads are also high in protein and calcium, which help with tooth and enamel strength.

Drink Choice

When choosing your child’s drink to go along with their meal, be cognizant of the huge amounts of sugar present in several common drink choices. Sodas and other carbonated drinks are packed with both sugar and acid, both of which can damage the teeth and their enamel. If possible steer your child toward water or a small bottle of milk.

Avoid Buns

Remember what we said earlier about the starch content in fries? It’s much of the same with buns, which can promote the formation of bacteria in the teeth after the meal is over. Many restaurants offer lettuce wraps or other bun alternatives, which you should expose your kids to early and promote.

Sugary Deserts

These same restaurants also offer shakes and several other sugary desert options – we recommend avoiding these altogether. Many of these items contain more sugar than your child should consume in a single day, much less a single meal or item.

For more on how to make a fast food trip mouth-healthy, or to learn about any of our child dental services, speak to the staff at Children’s Crossing Pediatric Dentistry today.