Better breakfasts for brighter smiles

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September 4th, 2018

Graphic of backpack and books

Morning time can be the most hectic part of the day for families. Before rushing off to school, many kids sit around the table (or stand up at the counter) to fuel up with the most important meal of the day. But one of the most common breakfast options – cereal – can have some unintended consequences for teeth.

What’s the issue?

Two out of three cereals marketed to children have more than one-third of the recommended daily intake of sugar in just one serving. Kicking the day off with that much sugar can be an issue. Dental plaque reacts with these refined sugars to create acids, and over time and with enough exposure, this can cause cavities.

What can I do?

The good news for parents is that there are lots of ways to avoid this cavity-causing effect. Opting for healthier cereals is a great place to start. Look for lower-sugar options, preferably with four grams of sugar or less in one serving. You should also choose varieties made from whole grains to maintain nutrients like fiber, which stimulates saliva flow to help keep teeth clean.

Regardless of which cereal you choose, there are ways to minimize the effects it can have on your teeth. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, drinking milk after eating sugary breakfast cereals can help decrease your risk of cavities. It can also help to brush after your meal, to avoid drinking fruit juice and to avoid snacking on cereal throughout the day.

Looking for cereal alternatives?

If you have the time, give these options a try:

  • Fruit – apples, berries, cherries, melons and pears
  • Dairy products – yogurt, cottage cheese and cheese slices
  • Protein – chicken, ground turkey and fish
  • Eggs – sunny-side up, omelets and crustless quiche
  • Smoothies and smoothie bowls (avoid or limit sugary fruit juices)
  • Whole-wheat toast and whole-wheat bagels