7 Surprising Things That Can Harm Kids Teeth

7 Surprising Things That Can Harm Kids Teeth

We all know about the benefits of brushing, flossing, regular visits to the dentist and avoiding sticky sweets. We’ve also written about the potential harm of consuming too many liquid dental villains (juice, soda, Gatorade!). But there are other surprising items and activities that can damage the teeth of both kids and adults.  Here is a summary in list form of some of the more off-the-wall things that can harm our teeth.

1. Chewable vitamins

 While these may be the only way to get our kids to swallow vitamin supplements, there is a load of sugar in those chewy and sticky vitamin snacks.  Sugar is the fuel that bad bacteria in our mouth feed on and then secrete acid as a byproduct (this is how cavities form).

2. Dried fruit

We’re usually so delighted when kids eat dried fruit instead of junk food. While dried fruit is nutritious, it’s also like a gummy candies.  Their chewy and somewhat sticky nature combined with the sugar in the dried fruit is a bad combination.  Its hard to get off the teeth and it has high sugar content.  

3. Barbecue sauce

Kids often love this as a way of making dry foods easier to swallow and because it has a great taste.  Unfortunately, barbeque sauce also has a lot of sugar inside it.

4. Ice (or very hard candies)

If your child likes crunching on ice cubes or ice chips, tell them to be careful, or to stop altogether. One moment, you’re hearing crunching ice, the next, it could be a wail over a toothache from a cracked or chipped tooth. Teeth that have existing fillings in them are already weakened and this may make them even more likely to fracture.  A fractured tooth is typically not able to be saved so this is an outcome you definitely want to avoid.  The candies of course also carry the sugar content risk.

5. Cough drops

Unless you are buying sugar free cough drops (and these are actually pretty tasty and effective nowadays), these lozenges that are sucked on for at least several minutes can really add a lot of sugar to the mouth.  They also are pretty hard if bitten before they are sucked down to a wafer.

6. Pencils and bottle caps

Chewing on school objects is a bad habit a child needs to break as soon as possible, or not develop in the first place! If your child chews fingernails, it can level up to chewing pencils and pens. Try to divert the chewing by keeping hands busy.  These items are not only covered in bacteria that can make you ill but have lots of hard plastic and metal parts that can be very damaging to teeth if chewed on.  

And caution the kids about twisting open plastic bottle caps with their teeth! This is really dangerous, with the risk of choking added to damaged teeth.

7. Too much snacking

Kids get hungry all the time. However, there’s a difference between meals with snacks in between, and constant grazing. Even if all the snacks are healthy, like almonds or cheese, eating all the time constantly changes the pH in the mouth as the food breaks down in the mouth.  

Teach your child to rinse/swish/drink water after consuming some of these foods. Brushing after eating is ideal, but not always practical.

About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates

Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options.  We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.

39400 Garfield Rd., Suite 200
Clinton Township, MI
Phone: 586-286-0700
Fax: 586-286-5932


Image Courtesy of Savant Magazine