Your child’s health is important. You make sure they see their doctor regularly and take measures to keep them healthy. You also want your child to get plenty of rest and establish a healthy diet.
Proper child nutrition is important for the optimum health of your child’s body, but did you know that it’s also a key to healthy teeth?
Whether you’re a new parent or a seasoned veteran, sometimes we are all guilty of allowing our children to intake foods and drinks that might not be ideal for their health. The good news is that it’s never too late to bring your family back on track to proper, healthy nutrition.
Here is a run-down on ways you can help boost your child’s overall health and oral health:
Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables have numerous vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients needed for healthy teeth. Instead of crackers, bread or other processed carbohydrates, offer fruits and vegetables for snacks. Fruits and vegetables with a high water content, such as melons, pears, apples, cucumbers and celery are best as they have the least amount of concentrated sugar and also help children get enough water in their diet.
Get Your Calcium Fix In
Teeth, like bones, are strengthened when a child consumes an adequate amount of calcium. For strong, healthy teeth as well as tall, strong bones, be sure your child gets his or her adequate amount of cheese, yogurt, milk and tofu which are excellent sources of calcium.
Avoid Sticky Situations
Classic childhood favorites like granola, dried fruit, cookies, raisins, syrup, honey and peanut butter may not be as good as you think when it comes to your child’s oral health. Their high sugar content makes them less than ideal for your child’s overall health. Also, these sticky foods can leave behind debris that sticks to/between teeth, fostering a favorable environment for plaque to accumulate. If your child does eat sticky foods, please make sure they brush their teeth afterwards.
Snacking throughout the day frequently exposes the teeth and gums to sugars and debris, giving way to more opportunities for cavity-causing plaque to grow. Try and limit your child’s snacking to 1-2 times a day. If possible, brush your child’s teeth after snacking. Frequent snacking also promotes a pH-acidic oral environment that also promotes unfavorable bacterial growth and activity which also promotes tooth decay.
Don’t Allow Food to Linger
Limit or exclude the consumption of hard candies like mints and lollipops and cough drops. These foods require them to sit and slowly disintegrate inside the mouth, constantly exposing the teeth and gums to cavity-causing sugar. This constant exposure of sugar can cause it to infiltrate the tissue of the gums and teeth, increasing the risk of cavities and gum disease.
Prohibit Break Time
If you give your child dessert after a big dinner, consider giving him or her the dessert immediately after the meal. Not only will he or she not likely eat as much of it, but there will be a higher level of saliva still in the mouth from the meal. Saliva helps rinse out the mouth and washes away germs, bacteria and lodged food particles. The more saliva that is in the mouth, the lower the chance of gum disease and tooth decay.
Don’t Put the Baby Down for Bed With Anything Other Than Water
Giving into to your child’s demand for a sugary bedtime beverage may seem like a tempting way for you to get to sleep sooner, this behavior is one of the common causes of pediatric tooth decay. For bedtime, fill your child’s bottle with water instead of milk, soda, juice or formula.
Encourage Water Drinking
Throughout the day and at meals, give your child water to drink instead of fruit juice and soda. Milk consumption should also be limited as it contains natural sugars.
Lean meat such as fish, chicken and turkey contain a high amount of protein. Protein is helpful for the teeth and is needed for muscle growth and development as well as brain development. Beef and pork are also full of protein, but because they have a high fat content, they should be consumed sparingly.
Other Pediatric Dental Care Takeaways
Besides a healthy, nutritious diet that include the restriction of sugar, there are some other practices you can do as a parent to help your child attain their optimum oral and bodily health:
- Look for sugar-free candy and gum (Xylitol is a sugar that doesn’t promote decay)
- Choose toothpaste with fluoride
- Use fluoride mouthwash
- Floss your child’s teeth daily
- Have your child brush their teeth after taking cough syrup or other sugary medications
Regular dentist visits every six months are also crucial for maintaining your children’s oral health. During these visits, we’ll deep-clean their teeth and perform a brief oral exam to make sure everything looks right. If it has been more than six months since your children’s last dental office visit with us at Woodhill Dental Specialties, contact us today to schedule an appointment.