Better Breakfasts for Brighter Smiles

Before dashing to school in the morning, many kids fuel up with the most important meal of the day. The most common breakfast – cereal – can have consequences for teeth.

Too much sugar at breakfast isn’t a great way to start the day. Some cereals have more sugar than you think. In fact, 2 out of 3 cereals marketed to kids had more than a third of the recommended daily sugar intake in just one serving. When these refined sugars get on teeth, dental plaque reacts with them to create acids that can cause cavities.

The good news is there are ways to avoid this cavity-causing effect. Look for low-sugar cereal options, meaning those with four grams of sugar or less in one serving. Choose varieties made from whole grains to maintain nutrients like fiber, which stimulates saliva flow to help keep teeth clean. And read the nutrition information on the back or side of the packaging to help sort through the options.

sugar at breakfast

No matter which cereal you choose, there are other ways to minimize the effects it can have on your teeth. Brushing after the meal is an obvious choice, but other steps can help too. A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association showed drinking milk after eating sugary cereal can help decrease your risk of cavities. Avoid fruit juice, because it’s also loaded with sugar – sometimes as much as soda. And only eat cereal at breakfast instead of snacking on it throughout the day.

You can also try other foods that make great brainpower boosts for school to include in your morning routine, like: oatmeal, bagels, whole fruit, eggs, cheese, whole-grain toast, oatmeal yogurt and smoothies (always mind the added sugar – check the label!). Or try a low-sugar muffin. All of these can help kids start the day on the right note without the high risk of tooth decay.