There is a huge difference in how our teeth react to certain foods. If you think about it, after eating an apple for example, there is no residue left on your teeth because apples are a natural sugar whereas the sugars found in soda, or in chocolate is manufactured sugar. The sugar sticks to the apples – not your teeth, making it easy to wash most of it off of tooth enamel with a swish of water after your snack.

Eating something like chocolates or marshmallows, they are sticky, and chewy, and sugar easily gets stuck on and between the teeth for longer periods of time. These snacks would require brushing to get the sugars off of your tooth surface. 

Why are sticky foods bad for fillings in children?

The sugars in food react with the saliva, causing acid to build up in the mouth. This acid slowly eats away the tooth enamel, which is the tooth surface, causing weakness in the teeth and allowing for bacteria to build up and cause cavities.

Normally, the minerals in saliva help neutralize the pH in the mouth to regulate bacteria. But the more acidic the mouth becomes, the less saliva can protect teeth.

Sticky foods continuously pull on the filling material while your child chews, which can loosen them and cause them to become dislodged over time. This is true for both silver and composite fillings.

That’s why dentists recommend that you moderate eating sticky foods. (Sadly, gum is a culprit we see often in children with dislodged fillings.)

Tips for enjoying chewy foods with fillings safely:

Of course, we can’t avoid sticky foods all together, but we can swap out healthy alternatives as often as possible. 

The following are some tips to help avoid sticky foods.

1) Make sure to brush your teeth right after eating anything sticky, including candy, gum or dried fruit. Sugar can remain in your mouth for up to six hours and the best way to remove it is with a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.

2) Substitute sticky snacks with healthier alternatives like yogurt, fresh fruit or low-fat cheese sticks. These will also help curb appetite while also providing calcium which helps strengthen teeth and bones.

Here are some snacks you may want to avoid: fruit snacks or fruit strips and roll ups, candies such as gummy bears, taffy, caramels, or toffees, hard candies such as gobstoppers. Sweets include Honey, jam, chocolate, chewing gum with sugar, chewy candies and toffees. 

Enjoy these foods as an occasional treat. Aim to eat them at mealtimes, rinse or drink plenty of water and later, pay particular attention to brushing and flossing to ensure removal of all sugary particles potentially left behind.