Ever heard the phrase “looks can be deceiving”? If you ask me, it should be the slogan for the food marketing industry because it couldn’t be any more fitting! Food products are always slapping on labels like “natural”, “made with real fruit”, “whole grains”, “added nutrients”, “fat free” to grab your attention and make you believe that their product is as healthy as can be. And who is one of their major marketing audiences? Your kids!

There are foods out there, particularly catered towards children, that appear to be good for their health. Foods like fruit snacks and chews, granola bars, and gummy vitamins are said to be made with whole grains, real fruit juices, and have all the vitamins and mineral your little one could need. But you know what they don’t display so clearly? All the sugars that are packed into their product!

And who loves sugar more than your kids? The bacteria in their mouth!

Sugary foods that get stuck in and between the teeth become the feeding ground for bacteria. After the bugs eat and digest the sugars and simple carbohydrates, they poop out acids! it’s acids that cause cavities in teeth. (Yes it is gross to think about bacterial poop but that is the easiest way to explain the cavity process and how sugar is PART of it.)

If you have a busy family like mine you understand the concept of “convenience foods”. They are quick, easy, relatively cheap, and get the job done. But, what most people might not realize is how those cheap snacks can later cause some costly dental work! Kids who snack unsupervised and uncontrolled are trusted to brush on their own before the dexterity to do a sufficient job (check out these articles on kids brushing ), don’t have proper oral home care, or don’t drink enough water to rinse out their teeth after eating are all at risk for developing cavities from these foods!

The goal of this article is to uncover misleading food labels marketed to your children that could be bad for their teeth.

As a reference, this is what a tablespoon of sugar looks like for comparison in the following information. (1 tablespoon=12 grams of sugar)tablespoon-of-sugar

1) Granola Bars: Packed with whole grains, a little protein, and a whole lot of sugar. Also, granola bars are sticky and often stay stuck in the child’s teeth for a long time unless the teeth are brushed afterwards or your child rinses teeth with water. (all the underlined words are basically sugar!)

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2) Fruit roll-ups, fruit snacks, fruit chews, etc: Claimed to be made with real fruit, which is probably true, however there are a ton of added sugars in these snacks to make them taste so good.   Gummy-like snacks can easily get caught in kid’s molars and stay there for HOURS! Check out the picture of a child who ate their snack over an hour ago and this is what their teeth look like!

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3) Gummy Vitamins: One of the most deceiving cavity-causing foods! I mean, it’s a vitamin, those are healthy right?! Well, yes they might be packed with vitamins and nutrients, but what people don’t realize is that some of the flintstones-complete-multivitamin-gummies-kidsmost highly marketed gummy vitamins have a ton of sugar per serving! And like fruit rollups and fruit snacks, they can easily get stuck in a child’s teeth and stay there for longer than you think! (Like the picture shown above). The table below shows the serving size and sugar content in some of the most popular children’s vitamins. (Remember: 5 grams of sugar= 1 teaspoon) 3-5 grams may not sound like much, but these are sticky and gummys are REALLY small!

Gummy Vitamin Serving Size Grams of Sugar
Flintstones Complete Multivitamin 4 gummies 5 grams
Lil Critters Gummy Vites 2 gummies 3 grams
Yummi Bears 3 gummies 4 grams
Yummi Bears Sugar Free 2 gummies <0.5 grams
SmartyPants Kids Complete Gummy Vitamins 4 Gummies 5 grams

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4) Drinks: Soda, fruit juices, and sports drinks are generally acidic and contain a lot of sugar! The picture below gives you a visual representation of how much sugar is in each of the beverages your child could be consuming. Fruit juices and sports drinks that claim to be great sources of Vitamin C or electrolytes could be damaging to your child’s teeth!

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So when it comes to buying food for your little ones, do not be tricked by creative marketing! Keep in mind that food industries are not trying to make you eat healthier, they are trying to sell their product. By being aware of the ingredients in your kids snacks, reading the food labels, and practicing proper dental care after a meal, you could be saving yourself a lot of money in dental work!

Is it time for your kids to see the dentist? Bring them into DurhamDDS where we love treating our younger patients! We offer an array of services that range anywhere from routine cleanings, fillings, or helping you through dental emergencies. To make an appointment call our office at 919-286-0779 or visit our website at durhamdds.com for more information.

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