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Parental guidance: Raisins and kids' dental health

Instead of packing a sandwich, give your kids

Instead of packing a sandwich, give your kids a healthy dip or spread along with vegetables and whole grain chips, pretzels, crackers and vegetables, suggests Newsday columnist Lauren Chattman. Her nieces Cara and Grace agree. (Aug. 7, 2011) Credit: Doug Young

Q. I've heard pediatric dentists say raisins aren't the best snack for kids. Why not?

A. This opinion usually "shocks" parents, says Dr. Glen Ehrenman of Ehrenman & Kahn Pediatric Dentistry in Westbury. While raisins might be a nutritious snack, "because of the consistency -- the stickiness -- they get stuck in the teeth," Ehrenman says.

Dr. Ron Kosinski, chief of pediatric dental medicine at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, agrees with Ehrenman. "Even though it's natural sugar, the bacteria in the mouth love, love, love sugar. That is what they feed on," he says. The longer the bacteria linger, the more chance of tooth decay.

Incidentally, neither dentist is a fan of fruit rollups for the same reason -- "I call them sugar rollups," Ehrenman says. Ehrenman also decries some granola bars. "They're mixed up with honey and cran raisins," he says. They just aren't good for young children's dental health, especially when they are so young that they may not be brushing that thoroughly.

It also might shock parents to hear what Ehrenman and Kosinski do say is an acceptable sweet snack as far as the teeth go -- chocolate. "Chocolate is better than a raisin," Ehrenman says. It's the sugar added to chocolate that does damage, so, of course, it would be better for the chocolate to be dark chocolate. But even the sugar in milk chocolate snacks such as M&M's and Hershey's kisses will melt away from the teeth. "It doesn't stick around in the mouth," Ehrenman says.

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