When it comes to their children’s oral health, many parents know that diet plays an important role in how strong our teeth and gums are. But many don’t know that it’s not only sweets that should be avoided, but also starchy food that might not taste sweet at all, but still break down into sugars.
What Is Starch?
Starch is a carbohydrate and it’s one of the main sources of energy for our bodies. Starch is crucial in our diet, and we are far from recommending banning it from the diet of your child, as you will deprive him of important macronutrients.
Starchy is contained by many products and it’s either native or modified, meaning it’s contained naturally by the product or it has been added during the processing. This distinction is important, as it will give us a better idea of what starchy food is good for your child and what you should consider avoiding.
So What Makes Starchy Food so Bad for Your Child’s Teeth?
Cavities form when the bacteria in the plaque – a thin film that covers your teeth after you eat – attack your teeth’s enamel and makes them vulnerable to decay. This bacteria feeds mostly on the sugars found in food, which is why sweets are so bad for your teeth. But starchy food also breaks down into sugar, making certain starch-rich products bad for your oral health.
Processed starchy food like chips, pretzels, crackers or corn puffs can have a bad effect on your teeth’s enamel because they tend to stick to your teeth, prolonging the exposure to sugars. The plaque that lingers in your mouth is not so easy to remove by simply brushing and can lead to cavities, demineralization and even gum disease.
What Alternatives Can You Offer?
As said before, it’s important to differentiate between naturally contained starches and processed ones, as the latter should be avoided as much as possible. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t feed your child starch-rich products, but be sure to choose items like fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain bread and cooked food made from scratch.
Oral hygiene is equally important in promoting dental health, so make sure that your child brushes at least twice a day, flosses and rinses his mouth with water after eating starchy and sugary foods.
Regular visits to your St. Louis pediatric dentist will also keep cavities away from your child’s teeth, as they can get professional cleanings, tooth sealing and other preventive treatments that protect the enamel from decay.
If you still have questions about how to keep your child’s teeth healthy, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist and ask about the best options in terms of diet and oral hygiene for your little one. Give us a call today at (314) 862-7844 to learn more or schedule an appointment!