Eating well doesn’t just benefit a child’s overall health, but can improve the strength and health of their teeth! For many parents, getting their children to eat healthier foods can be a difficult process, but can have long-lasting effects on their oral health, even into adulthood. The American Dental Association has given a list of healthy snacks that are good for teeth and that children will love at the same time, while also advising against those foods that harm developing teeth. Read this guide to find out what snacks can improve your child’s oral health but still let them enjoy the foods that they love to eat!
For healthy teeth in children, regular dental checkups and good oral health habits at home are a must. But did you know that you can improve your child’s oral health by changing what foods and snacks they eat on a daily basis? The foods that we consume have a number of nutritional components that affect the strength of our teeth, whether it be positively or negatively. For young developing teeth, proper nutrition is essential in protecting against plaque and tartar buildup to avoid cavities, which damage teeth. A balanced diet that is low in sugar is your best bet for protecting your kids’ health. Although your children may not go for celery sticks or plain broccoli, there are other options to choose from that are both tasty and nutritious at the same time.
To begin, water, especially fluoridated water, is the best beverage for maintaining the strength of developing teeth. Fluoride helps teeth become resistant to the acids that are found in food, which helps prevent cavities. Even if soda is the beverage of choice, aim to give your child water to increase their fluoride intake and hydrate them at the same time. When deciding on what snacks to pack into your child’s lunchbox, it is important to determine how many low-fat dairy foods, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein (such as legumes, nuts and lean meats), you are including each day. These food sources are some of the most nutrient-rich foods that a child can have, and offer a variety of options to pick and choose from. To give your child the most vitamins and minerals possible, try including some of the following into their daily routine:
Milk and other dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, are low in sugar but high in calcium, which gives you more bang for your buck. Calcium helps strengthen bones in your body, and is extremely important for teeth while they’re forming. Protein, such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs, are full of phosphorous, which helps strengthen teeth, as well. Lastly, fruits and veggies are high in water and fiber, which help balance the sugar content they contain while cleaning your teeth at the same time. These food groups are essential for young children to be consuming early on when their teeth are developing, and can have major impacts on their oral health in the future.
Now that we know what foods kids should be snacking on, it is also important to know when children should be eating them. There is a time and a place for everything, food included. While eating healthy snacks is good for the body, having too many snacks allows more bacteria the opportunity to grow in the mouth and plaque to accumulate on the teeth. Especially if you are giving your child sugary snacks, such as candy, soda or pastries, it is important to ration how much they are eating. For this reason, it is recommended that the number of snacks that you child has during the day should be limited to prevent cavities. Spacing out the time between meals can also allow saliva to build up and wash away food particles, which protects teeth. Frequent snacking can lead to dental health problems just as much as sugary diets can, so the number of snacks given per day should be decided beforehand, as an extra precaution.
For teeth to be 100% healthy, it is important that your child learns and implements good oral health habits at home that they can continue using into adulthood. While eating healthy snacks is a good start, it’s not enough to protect your child’s vulnerable teeth. Regular brushing twice a day and flossing at night can remove food particles stuck between teeth and keep your child’s teeth sparkling and healthy. For added measure, using an ADA-approved mouthwash can further kill bacteria and address any bad breath issues. Regular visits with the dentist will allow him/her to properly monitor your child’s incoming/developing teeth while ensuring, through a thorough cleaning, that your child’s health is the best that it can be. Even with a great oral health regimen at home, your child can have areas of their teeth or gums that can’t be seen at home which are having underlying problems. For this reason, make sure to schedule follow up appointments with their pediatric dentist to receive proper care and avoid any problems before they even begin.
For more information on how food affects your child’s teeth or other options to include in your child’s daily oral health routine, schedule a visit with Stonebrook Family Dental at (303) 872-7907!