I don't usually get too worried about receiving a bad report card when I take my preschooler to the dentist. As a nutritionist, I don't keep a lot of junk in the house, and most days I can successfully get him to brush his teeth at least once.
During a recent visit, I was chatting up my favorite dental hygienist, who also happens to be a close friend, when she tipped me off about a popular product that has been keeping their office busy filling kids' cavities left and right. She warned me that what parents think is helping their kids to be healthier is not really healthy at all for their little teeth.
What is this hidden danger I was so surprised to hear of? Gummy vitamins! I was happily giving my son gummy vitamins every morning — he thought he was getting a treat and I knew he was getting the nutrition he needed if I couldn't get him to eat his carrots at dinner. I spent a pretty penny for the organic, no-high-fructose-corn-syrup, naturally flavored brand, and I was all of a sudden feeling pretty guilty about it.
I also felt pretty silly for not realizing that gummy vitamins are really no different than any other gummy candy or fruit snack. Those chewy little vitamins can stick in their teeth all day long, a perfect breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria.
Those chewy little vitamins can stick in their teeth all day long, a perfect breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria.
My friend shared with me that her office has seen an uptick as of late in kids with cavities, and one of the first things they ask parents after eliminating the obvious offenders (candy, soda, juice, etc.) is whether they give their children gummy vitamins. All too often, the answer is "yes," and most parents are quite surprised a healthy multivitamin could be the culprit.
So, what is a well-meaning parent to do? The best option would be to switch out your current gummies for a chewable vitamin that is less likely to stick to their teeth. If, like me, you don't want to throw an expensive bottle of vitamins straight in the trash can, you could only offer your children gummy vitamins just before it's time to brush their teeth (and then make the switch once your current bottle is empty). The most important thing you can do is make sure you are aware of this danger so your child doesn't end up spending so much time with his dentist that he thinks he's made a new best friend.