What Kind of Diet Will Help My Children Maintain Strong Dental Health?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the “perfect diet” for eliminating cavities and withstanding all dental problems. Most dental health revolves around healthy, regular flossing and brushing practices. But, nutrition should not be underestimated as an essential factor in promoting strong, healthy teeth in kids. A balanced diet, combined with excellent oral hygiene, can help your children avoid dreaded cavities and other dental issues. We’re going to outline foods that help children maintain healthy teeth, as well as foods to avoid that are bad for kids’ teeth.
What Foods Should My Kids Eat to Maintain Healthy Teeth?
Here’s a brief list of foods and drinks that help children maintain excellent dental health:
Water – Water has zero carbohydrates or sugar, both of which can cause cavities because bacteria in the mouth feed on them to produce acids that damage teeth. Water also rinses and dislodges food debris in the mouth between flossing and brushing sessions. Additionally, it encourages spit and saliva to flow. Drinking water keeps the mouth from getting too dry and neutralizes the acids that damage teeth and gums. Water is particularly effective for promoting strong teeth if it contains a bit of fluoride.
Broccoli and Leafy Greens – Both broccoli and dark leafy greens are nutrient-rich foods containing a ton of calcium. Calcium and these other nutrients can help strengthen the enamel on your children’s teeth as they grow and develop.
Yogurt and Low-Fat Milk – Like broccoli and leafy greens, low-fat milk and yogurt contain a high level of calcium. As a bonus, low-fat dairy gives your child the bone and enamel strengthening minerals they need without the saturated fat.
Cheese – Researchers have recently found that cheese has several properties to help children fight cavities. First, it increases the pH level in the mouth and stimulates saliva production. A low pH level in the mouth puts children at risk for tooth erosion, so eating cheese can help prevent those levels from dropping. Second, researchers also believe that various cheese components may protect tooth enamel from damaging acids by coating the teeth.
Eggs – Eggs are incredibly nutrient-rich, containing high levels of protein, vitamin D, and phosphates. All of these nutrients play a critical role in bone health. In particular, vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, strengthening and maintaining healthy teeth in children.
Raw Carrots, Celery, Apples, and Cauliflower – Fruits and veggies with a bit of crunch are fantastic for kids’ teeth. Just the act of eating these healthy, crunchy foods scrapes away cavity-causing bacteria and plaque. An important note: apples are highly nutritious, but they do contain acids, so it’s important to brush before eating one and rinse well after finishing the apple. Brushing and rinsing will decrease the effects of the acids on your child’s enamel.
Seeds and Nuts – Seeds and nuts contain fats and oils that can coat your child’s teeth, acting as a protective barrier against bacteria and strengthening tooth enamel. Certain varieties of nuts and seeds also contain calcium, doubling the positive effects on your child’s dental health.
Strawberries, Oranges, Peppers, and Cantaloupe – The foods are among the best for your child’s gum health, as they all contain very high levels of vitamin C. They encourage collagen production in the gum tissue and destroy bacteria that can cause gingivitis. However, it’s important to wait about thirty minutes after drinking or eating citrus-based foods or drinks before brushing. The acids in these foods can make your child’s enamel temporarily vulnerable to wear on teeth and gums from brushing.
What Foods Should My Children Avoid to Maintain Healthy Teeth?
Below is a shortlist of foods and beverages that are bad for your child’s teeth:
Chewy Candy – Probably the worst on this list, chewy candy can do double the damage to your child’s dental health. Not only does most candy contain harmful sugar, but chewy candy is tough to brush off. Things like gummy bears and taffy can easily get stuck in between or on your child’s teeth, and the longer their teeth are exposed to sugar, the more likely they are to be damaged.
Starchy Foods – Starchy foods, like pasta, bread, and chips, all turn into simple sugars as you’re eating them. Much like the sugar in candy, this has the same damaging effect on your child’s teeth. Make sure to brush your child’s teeth after eating starches.
Sugary Beverages – It’s pretty simple; sports drinks, juices, and sodas are typically loaded with sugar. These high levels of sugar increase the risk for gum disease and can cause cavities.
Fizzy Drinks – Most fizzy drinks fall under the soda category, which we’ve already mentioned has a ton of teeth damaging sugar. However, it’s important to know that even sugar-free versions typically contain acids that harm and erode your child’s tooth enamel.
Using these recommendations as a guide for your child’s diet will certainly give you an advantage in maintaining excellent dental health. Again, it’s essential to combine these dietary practices with frequent levels of flossing and brushing to help your child establish healthy dental habits.
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