Integrative Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics Serving SF Bay Area
Snacks That Promote Healthy Oral Development

Snacks That Promote Healthy Oral Development

Like most kids, my son and daughter love cookies, muffins, and other sugary treats. However, as a mom and kids’ dentist, I try to avoid these treat snacks to minimize tooth decay. I’m always looking for quick and healthy snack options for them to eat after school or during activities. For example, our school serves crackers and fruit to the kids during aftercare, so I asked the school not to provide crackers for my kids.

“Anything that comes from a package is not the best to consume. If you have to open a plastic bag with preservatives, sugars, or processed oils, think twice.”

Instead, I try to find healthy snacks that help with oral development to pack for them as an alternative. Here are some of the snack options that I like to pack for my kids.

Healthy Snack Alternatives

Fresh fruit currently in season: My daughter loves eating fruit. Right now, that includes a lot of berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), figs, grapes, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears, and watermelons.

Sweet potatoes: We also eat a ton of sweet potatoes. We bake them in the oven or cook them in a pressure cooker. Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals. My kids like them with grass-fed butter or coconut oil spread on top.
Vegetable snacks: My kids like mini tomatoes, boiled snap peas, and carrots. Cucumber sticks with miso are also a popular option. Plant-based foods can limit plaque, prevent cavities, and build healthy gums. I like to give my kids crunchy foods like raw carrots because they stimulate and exercise the muscles and bones of the jaw leading to good dental health and jaw growth. Also, adding miso paste is an easy way to get fermented food into their diet.

Cheese: We often rotate through various kinds of cheese (Gouda and Jarlsberg are our current favorites) throughout the year. I like to give my kids cheese, especially after eating high carbohydrate treats, since cheese stimulates saliva flow and has a high calcium/phosphorus content. It also has a high fat-soluble vitamin content and probiotic bacteria to help strengthen the oral environment.

Prepackaged snacks: Foods with a long shelf life that I can just throw in my bag are very convenient given our busy schedules. My son likes roasted salted pumpkin seeds and different types of nuts, but my daughter does not like them as much. However, I keep offering them to her, so she does not limit her diet. Nuts and seeds are high in minerals and healthy fats that build strong teeth and healthy gums.

Meat or fish jerky: Meat and fish jerky is another convenient prepackaged snack that is high in protein and minerals that help build strong teeth, bones, and muscle. Eating jerky also stimulates and exercises the muscles and bones of the jaw.

Dark chocolate: Another prepackaged snack that my kids really enjoy is dark chocolate. Cocoa actually has properties that can help remineralize and harden enamel. Cocoa also contains polyphenols that limit plaque, have antibacterial properties, and build healthy gums. Just make sure to get dark chocolate without too much added sugar!

We are thankful to live in an area with many great options for fresh organic produce and healthy snacks. I always tell my patients at CIAO SMILES: that anything that comes from a package is not the best to consume. If you have to open a plastic bag with preservatives, sugars, or processed oils, think twice.

Now the days will get shorter, and a time for transition will happen. From the end of August to October, our kids’ bodies need to prepare for the winter months. In the next newsletter, we will talk about how to strengthen the immune system and strategies to adapt to the winter season… Stay tuned!

We grow thriving and resilient children through CIAO Smiles,
Dr. Nakako Uritani

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Dr. Nakako Uritani
Dr. Nakako Uritani
Certified with the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry

Dr. Uritani is a board-certified Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. She believes the combination of pediatric dentistry and ALF Therapy is very powerful in treating each child as a whole. Her lifelong interest in healthy living and nutrition has always driven her to find supportive and natural ways to create a foundation of health.

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