Published on June 13, 2019, Updated on June 13, 2019
Kids love to eat candy and all sorts of sugary foods because they taste good, but they can have disastrous effects on their oral health. Baby teeth and permanent teeth alike can suffer from the harmful effects that sugar can cause whenever it’s consumed too much; too much sugar in a child’s diet can cause tooth decay and cavities. For this reason, it is important that children eat a balanced diet with healthy snacks to keep their teeth beautiful and strong. Find out what foods are good and bad for young children’s teeth!
Our mouths are the initial point of contact with everything we consume, so it’s important that we understand how the foods we eat affect our teeth, especially for little children. Mouths, teeth and gums help with chewing and swallowing, which are essential steps in the digestion process. The foods we eat impact the health of our teeth and gums, but also our overall health. Committing to healthy practices and good oral hygiene early on will help your child develop strong, healthy teeth and protect them from gum disease, cavities and enamel wear. As you decide on what foods to include in your child’s diet, remember that what they eat will inevitably affect their physical and oral health. Empty calorie foods such as sweets, candy, cupcakes, muffins and chips not only provide little nutrition for your child, but they also contain a lot of sugar which easily adheres to teeth. The bacteria in our mouths feed off of sugar and release acid, which leads to tooth decay. Tooth decay can develop as soon as an infant receives their first tooth, and can affect oral health through adulthood. Drinks like soda, lemonade, coffee, iced or hot tea and juice are especially harmful to children’s teeth as their teeth are bathed in the sugary liquids as they are sipped. Even acidic fruits like tomatoes and citric fruits can be harmful to teeth when eaten alone, as they are known to wear down tooth enamel. For this reason, it’s important to pair them with other foods that can counteract their acidity to protect enamel. While you don’t need to get rid of all of the sugary foods and candies that your child loves to eat, it’s vital that they have portion control and that their meals are planned so that their teeth aren’t constantly in contact with cavity-causing foods. Safeguarding your child’s teeth from an early age will ensure that they can enjoy their childhood without the worry of dental problems.
We know that the food that we consume affects our oral health, but what foods are good to give children? Kids are known to be picky eaters, so sometimes it can be difficult to convince them to eat the fruits and vegetables that their bodies and teeth need to be strong. To begin, apples are one of the best fruits that you can give your child as they’re full of vitamins and can remove plaque from teeth as they chew and eat them. Carrots and celery also provide these same benefits so try alternating all three to give your child a varied diet. Spinach is an important vegetable for kids as they’re high in iron, have powerful antioxidants and are full of beta-carotene, which protects tooth enamel. Salmon and other fish contain Omega-3 fatty acids that improve heart health and are full of Vitamin D, which keep teeth and jaw bones strong. Oranges and other fruits like it contain Vitamin C, which protects kids and adults alike from scurvy. Lastly, your child needs to be eating some form of calcium daily to strengthen their teeth and bones, and low-fat yogurt is a great place to start. Try mixing in some berries to your child’s yogurt to give it a fun flavor and add more nutritional value at the same time. These are only some of the many recommendations that parents are encouraged to include in their kids’ diet to help them grow healthy and strong. If your child has specific health needs, such as diabetes or Celiac disease, speak with their pediatrician to develop a plan that works with their dietary restrictions.
Monitoring what foods your child consumes is a great way to start their oral health on the right foot. Parents should also be encouraging good brushing and flossing routines each day. Brushing helps remove the buildup of plaque and tartar that sits on teeth after your child eats, and flossing helps remove food particles from between teeth. Especially if the foods they’re eating are high in sugar, it is vital that they are consistently brushing and flossing each day to prevent cavities and tooth decay from forming. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child’s first dental visit should occur once their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday, and that they should continue to have regular dental checkups every six months to monitor tooth development. Regular dental visits will not only allow the dentist to perform a thorough cleaning of your child’s teeth and check for decay, but you can also opt in for your child to receive dental sealants to protect their teeth from cavities and schedule fluoride treatments to strengthen their teeth. Even if you don’t notice any obvious irregularities with your child’s oral health, make sure that they are visiting with their dentist regularly to identify any underlying issues that you may not be able to see.
If your child is due for a dental checkup, call our office at Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics at (720) 887-6003! Our experienced team can help you develop a treatment plan for your child’s nutritional and oral health needs so that they can have beautiful, healthy teeth. It’s worth the effort now to safeguard your child’s teeth by encouraging good oral health habits, which includes dental checkups. Call now to schedule an appointment!