134129534Like the adults who surround them, kids comprise a valuable part of the market when it comes to food. Companies that produce much of the food aimed at kids is highly processed and lacking in important nutrients, which can do a lot of harm to your child’s teeth.

Pediatric dentists Dr. G and Dr. Mo encourage parents and their children to take the best care of their teeth by avoiding harmful foods. Here are the five most important foods to avoid for a healthy smile!

Cereals for Breakfast

Don’t be fooled by labels. Even those breakfast cereals marked “whole grain” can contain as much sugar as a cupcake – definitely not something to eat for breakfast. Many also have less than 3 grams of protein and fiber, which are two elements that help power your child until lunch time.

Another tricky part of reading the label on breakfast cereals is that manufacturers have substituted a lot of different words for “sugar.” If words like high fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, dextrose, maltodextrin or glucose show up as one of the first ingredients on a label, be aware that the cereal’s foundation is sugar.

Fruit Snacks

To be clear, this doesn’t mean that children should avoid eating fruits during snack time – in fact, that is a great idea! Instead, avoid those gummy-like packages that are called “Fruit Snacks.”

Unfortunately, these contain very little – if any – fruit and are made with sugar, artificial colors, and preservatives. They stick to your child’s teeth and can lead to tooth decay. Opt for dried or fresh fruit instead, just make sure to brush well after eating!

Packaged Lunches

These pre-packaged lunches provide convenience without giving your child any real nutrition. Most of the cost and bulk of these pre-packaged lunches go into the actual packaging instead of the food, which consists of highly processed food that contains a lot of sugar.

Instead, pack your own “convenience foods” for kids on the go, like nuts, fresh or dried fruit, cheese and sandwiches. This whole food will supply your child with the energy he or she needs without sacrificing nutrition.

Don’t Forget the Drinks

This last segment isn’t food at all, but are still important to avoid for a healthy smile. There are about as many drink options out there for kids as there are for adults, all high in sugar and bad for teeth. Soda has long been known as having a negative effect on a child’s teeth and overall health. However, it’s also important to remember that flavored “juices” like fruit punch, energy drinks, sports drinks, legitimate fruit juices, milk shakes and chocolate milk contain a lot of sugar and empty calories.

As Spring approaches, it’s a great time of year to evaluate your child’s eating habits and make changes for a healthier smile! Call Must Love Kids, the office of pediatric dentistry in Vancouver, Washington, at 360-450-2999 to schedule your child’s appointment.