Mulling over what to put in your child’s school lunch box? Choose a bunch of grapes over a box of raisins. The reason: They are a major source of tooth decay.
Raisins — and dried fruits in general — while packed with vitamins, are also high in sugar and ultra-sticky on teeth. If bacteria in your mouth has a prolonged source of sugar (ie raisins stuck in teeth), decay can set in for a longer period of time.
Does this mean children should stop eating raisins altogether? The answer is “no.” The best way to maximize the nutritional benefits of raisins is to give them at the right time — during meals. Sugar that is part of a meal is not as detrimental to teeth. However, studies show that frequent snacking of sweet foods and drinks between meals causes the mouth to remain in an acidic state, which is ideal for tooth decay for form.
Want some other healthy snack options for teeth? Try cheeses, chicken or other meats, nuts, and milk. These foods are thought to protect tooth enamel by providing the calcium and phosphorus needed to remineralize teeth.
Other good snack choices include firm/crunchy fruits (for example, apples) and vegetables. These foods have a high water content, which dilutes the effects of the sugars they contain, and stimulate the flow of saliva — which helps protect against decay by washing away food particles and buffering acid.
The worst snack choices: Candy — such as lollipops, hard candies, and mints — cookies, cakes, pies, breads, muffins, potato chips, pretzels, french fries, bananas, as well as raisins and other dried fruits.