Goldfish are the Enemy

It all started with a toothache. When we were in Ocean City in August, Jack complained on and off that his tooth hurt. It would hurt for a bit and then stop hurting… and then hurt again. Mostly at night. He’d just been to the dentist 4 months before and I didn’t see anything when I stuck my flashlight in his mouth, so I was crossing my fingers that it wasn’t a big deal.

We decided to come home from the beach a little early and got an appointment with the dentist the next day. It was there that we learned that Jack had a cavity SO BAD that it was all the way through his baby tooth and they were concerned that it was going to rot out his grown-up tooth too. And there was a cavity next to that tooth. AND a cavity on the other side of his mouth.

What. The. Hell.

We were JUST at the dentist FOUR MONTHS ago… how on earth did my kid suddenly get so many cavities?!

Apparently, the answer is goldfish.

Like any parent, I’ve been providing my kid goldfish by the truckload. We typically go for the whole wheat version, but if we are near Costco we’ve been known to stock up on the regular version because it comes in a huge box for cheap.

Source: Pepperidge

Jack’s favorite snack is goldfish.

When he wakes up early on the weekend… goldfish. When he’s chilling on the couch watching television… goldfish. When he doesn’t like the veggies I made with dinner… goldfish. So. Many. Goldfish. But he’s 7, so I basically let him eat them whenever he wanted because at least he was getting healthy-ish food in his tummy.

According to the dentist, goldfish is one of the worst things you can give a kid. In fact, if you google ‘why are goldfish bad for teeth’ you immediately get 3,630,000 results. Apparently, goldfish are made up of simple starch, which turns to sugar really fast. They also get stuck in your teeth easily – they are stickier than most candy — so that the bacterial has even more time to turn the sugar into acid… and ruin your teeth.

I didn’t know this.

Jack’s tooth was so far gone that we had to go in for an extraction, in addition to having the tooth next to it filled. He gets to go back in a month to get the other side’s cavity filled too.

He took it like a champ! Thank goodness it is just his baby teeth and now that we know the culprit, we’ve made some changes to help him keep his mouth healthier:

  • Goodbye goldfish. After the dentist appointment, Jack asked if he should throw the goldfish away in our pantry and hasn’t touched one since. I told him that they are fine every so often, but he’s decided that they’re not worth the trouble.
  • Goodbye orange juice. We don’t do soda at all for Jack, but he was enjoying an awful lot of orange juice on the regular. The dentist said the acidity was too much for his teeth, so he also went cold turkey on orange juice and basically only has water for his drinks now.
  • Better teeth brushing. I bought Jack a 2-minute teeth brushing timer (we got this one) to help him know how long to brush his teeth. He brushes every morning and every night with NO exceptions.
  • Swish Swish. After each tooth brushing, Jack has started using a water/mouthwash mix for an extra swish-swish to get any yuck out of his teeth. He also has flossers that he uses a few times a week.

I can’t even tell you how much I beat myself up for this. I mean, I’m the mommy and I should have known better. So, going forward we are trying to do a much better job at teeth care in our house.

Have you experienced anything like this with your kid? Did you know that goldfish were so freaking bad for teeth?

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3 thoughts on “Goldfish are the Enemy”

  1. Don’t beat yourself up about it. The minute you felt there was something wrongq, you took Jack to the dentist, then,stopped goldfish as a snack.There are many mothers that would’ve ignored it, thinking that their child had been to the denist already. Good visit, must be nothing. Not you! You went back, and found out the culprit!
    Thank you for sharing this,who knew?

  2. I went through the same thing a few years ago and learned the horrible phrase “cracker cavities.” Some people are born with bacteria levels in the mouth that make them more susceptible to cavities – check 1. Deep grooves in his teeth – check 2. Crackers and really all starchy food – check 3. 3 surface fillings that had to be filled all at once and we paid to have sealants on his teeth to protect them for the future , totally worth the investment. Fast forward 1 year and I think we’re in the clear because sealants and stuff. They do x-rays and find cavities BETWEEN his teeth. His dentist calls them “kissing cavities” because they abut each other. SO MUCH MOM GUILT. So now we are careful with brushing, floss a few times a week, use the Act kids rinse a few times a week. But he still does each crackers and goldfish and stuff. The dentist suggested snacks like yogurt, fruit, veggies, cheese but honestly, that’s just not what he’ll reach for all the time. We’ve cut back carb snacks a lot but for us, cutting them out completely just wasnt’ possible.

  3. Don’t beat yourself up! We don’t do juice, pretty much only sparkling water, goldfish are a treat. We brush, floss a couple times a week… And my kid is going on for her second set of 3 fillings! Some on baby teeth because they are next to adult teeth. Stuff happens. You learn, you don’t make that mistake again. Now you get to make the next mistake!

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