Healthy Snacks for Children’s Teeth - Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics

Healthy Snacks for Children’s Teeth

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Young boy eating a salad and smiling.

For parents, every new stage in life can be confusing, especially when it comes to your child’s nutrition. What they eat directly affects their development and even their smile. Some foods will damage a child’s delicate baby teeth, while other foods can help make children’s teeth stronger. Use these tips for choosing healthy snacks for your child that can help them avoid cavities!


Practicing Good Oral Health

The baby teeth are quite small, but they are very important for setting your child up for a life of good oral health. The 20 baby teeth will space out and your child’s jaws will grow as they grow. The extra space in their mouths will be filled with adult teeth that will come in once your children’s teeth start to fall out. If a child’s teeth fall out too soon due to decay, it can mean that the adult teeth come in at the wrong place or too soon.


Plus, your children have to have their teeth for 7 or 8 years before the first one begins to fall out. Those are a lot of years that they need healthy teeth so they can learn to speak properly, chew, bite, and more. That is why practicing good oral health while a child is young is so important. You will have to brush your children’s teeth for the first few years, at least twice a day with child toothpaste enriched with decay-fighting fluoride. As they grow, you teach them how to brush themselves and how to floss. However, one area that not all parents think about is healthy eating for strong teeth.


Many bowls of healthy snacks that children can enjoy.

Your Eating Affects Oral Health

How you eat says a lot about how well your body works. It can also determine your oral health, as everything you eat and drink passes through your mouth. Now, more than ever, sugar is found in almost every food. This is a concern because sugar mixes with mouth bacteria to create plaque. That is the sticky substance that sticks to teeth and starts to decay them. Plaque is acidic, so it erodes tooth enamel as it decays. Most don’t realize that the problem all stems from sugar!


If you want your children’s teeth to be healthy and strong for years, choosing healthy snacks and meals for them is vital to reaching that goal. Children should eat solid meals throughout the day, with limited snacking in between meals. Constant snacking will constantly put your children’s teeth in contact with sugar, which means more cavities in the long run.


Infant Oral Care

Infants eat differently than children and adults do. This is because they are born without teeth, so they can only eat soft foods that their young digestive tracts can handle. If you use baby food, you can try to give them more vegetable varieties instead of more fruit varieties. It’s good for a child to have both fruits and veggies, but make sure they are not only having fruit. Protein baby foods are also good for their baby teeth because they rarely have sugar in them.


Checking food labels is a great way to choose non-sugary snacks for your baby. The American Heart Association recommends that infants have no added sugars if you can help it. Keep that in mind when choosing products at the store. If too many products have sugar in them, consider making baby food at home yourself.


As an infant ages enough to eat finger foods, continue to stick to veggies. If they snack on veggie straws or crackers throughout the day, make sure they are also having their teeth brushed, as these foods contain starch that breaks down into sugar.


Young girl helping a young boy have an even bigger smile.

Toddlers and Children

When choosing foods for your toddlers and children, skip the fruit punch and other juices. These often have more than one or two candy bar’s worth of sugar in just one drink serving. If your child loves juice consider drink flavoring options that are sugar-free. Another key drink to avoid is lemonade. Not only is this sugar-packed, but it contains citric acid, which will erode your child’s teeth. Just remember that your children will probably eat what you eat, so if you’re making healthy choices, they will too.


Healthy snacks and foods for children and toddlers are foods such as:

  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese sticks, low-sugar yogurts and cottage cheese.
  • Veggies such as broccoli, celery, carrots, and tomatoes.
  • Fruits in natural fruit forms (not gummy or fruit snack forms) such as strawberries, pears, apples, and oranges. However, watch fruit intake as it can have lots of sugar and/or citric acid).
  • Whole grains found in unsweetened cereals, plain crackers, whole wheat and grain bread and wheat pasta. A great snack for kids are oatcakes (or oat balls) made of rolled oats and peanut butter.
  • Healthy meats and fats like chicken or turkey, sunflower seeds, nuts and pumpkin seeds.
  • Beans such as lima, kidney, pinto or black beans. Toddlers especially love black beans.


Take Care of Your Children’s Teeth

Many parents don’t realize that they need to be taking their children in for dental exams and cleanings at a young age. Did you know that your child should have their first dental exam within 6 months of getting their first tooth? This is around age 1 for many babies. Starting off dental exams at this age and continuing with them can help your child have a healthy relationship with a dentist. They can grow up being comfortable in a dental office and knowing the importance of keeping their teeth healthy.


For several years, parents will be the ones that have to take care of their children’s teeth until they learn to care for them on their own. Giving them healthy snacks instead of sugary ones will not only keep your children’s teeth strong, but will help their bodies to be healthy as well. For tips to avoid tooth decay and other child oral health problems, call Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics today at (720) 887-6003!