Dietary Tips to Protect Your Child’s Teeth
You may not be aware of this, but dental issues in baby teeth can have lasting and serious effects on the growth of a child’s adult teeth. An abscess in a young child’s teeth can have the power to cause infection throughout the body, so it can be very very serious, and keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy is a priority.
Fluoride of course is an important mineral when it comes to teeth. Some advocates advise all children over 6 months of age should be given it if not in the water supply, but that’s up to you and your doctor.
What causes cavities is the combination of oral bacteria and sugar, so it is no mystery that the more often sugar is eaten and how long it is in the mouth (say, before brushing your teeth), is directly correlated to cavity formation. Essentially, any carbohydrate can result in cavities as bacteria feed off them.
Also, sugary drinks can get between teeth can cause problems. To combat this, try having snacks such as pretzels and protein/dairy foods such as peanut butter or cheese, which will help lower the sugary effect on creating cavities.
Of course, stay clear of soda for your kids, but even with juice, no more than 4-6 ounces a day is required.
Healthy snack ideas (via| superkidsnutrition.com) include:
- Apple slices and peanut butter
- Multigrain pretzels and hummus
- Egg or tuna salad in whole wheat pita bread
- Vegetable sticks with dip
- Fruit salad or apple slices with cinnamon
- Fruit and yoghurt
- Cheese slices with whole grain crackers
- Cheese quesadilla
- Bean burritos
- Cottage cheese with fruit
- Soup- Try Pumpkin Apple Soup or Yummy Lentil Soup
- Nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds (over the age of 3)
- Popcorn (over the age of 3)
Suggested eating habits to maintain good dental health:
- If using chewable vitamins, give with meals (not after)
- Wait 2 hours between meals and snacks
- Brush teeth after eating “sticky” foods and before going to bed
- Keep juice to a minimum – just with meals or snacks
- Consume high sugar foods no more than 3 times a day or less
- Limit soda and other high sugar beverages (such as fruit “drinks”)
- Chew sugar free gum containing xylitol after eating if you have a health history of cavities
- Have specific meal and snack times (avoid grazing)
- Include protein or dairy products with meals and snacks
I believe one of the key factors in the long term health of your child’s teeth and gums, is to teach them to enjoy drinking water from the start. Get in there before all the soda ads get to them first. This healthy attitude towards water can have long term lasting effects, not just for teeth and gums but also for overall health and hydration.
Switch from the bottle to a sippy cup once they turn one, and if you are giving your child juice, just be sure it’s 100% juice and not some artificially flavoured alternative masked as being juice. Oh, and dilute when you can!