October 14, 2021
A healthy smile requires more than just brushing and flossing. Children and adults alike must stick to a well-balanced diet to keep their teeth and gums problem-free. A nutritious diet isn’t just essential for a child’s growth and development – it’s necessary to keep their pearly whites strong and healthy as well. That said, making the right dietary choices is critical for maintaining good oral health. Continue reading to learn which foods you should incorporate into your child’s daily diet to keep their smile in tip-top shape.
The Link Between Nutrition and a Child’s Dental Health
It may come as no surprise that children need to eat food from all the major food groups to grow properly and stay healthy. Frequent consumption of foods high in carbohydrates, sugars, and starches can lead to cavities, decay, and even gum disease. For example, cake, cookies, candy, fruit juice, pretzels, and potato chips can all increase your little one’s risk of tooth decay. If they must indulge in any of these harmful snacks, make sure it’s only in moderation.
Which Foods Should Children Eat?
Children need to follow a nutritious, well-balanced diet to keep their teeth functioning properly and looking good. That means your little one should eat the following:
- Fruits and vegetables. These should be half of what your child eats every day. Foods like cucumbers, celery, carrots, apples, and pears are excellent choices that benefit oral health.
- Whole grains. At least half of your child’s grains should be whole grains, which includes oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice.
- Dairy. It’s best to opt for low-fat or fat-free dairy products whenever possible.
- Lean proteins. Lean beef, skinless poultry, fish, eggs, beans, peas, and legumes are great sources of protein. Encourage your little one to eat at least 8 oz. of seafood a week as well.
Tips to Keep Your Child’s Mouth Healthy
Aside from a nutritious diet, here are some additional steps you can take to keep your child’s mouth in good shape:
- Since cheese triggers the flow of saliva, serve it with lunch or as a snack to help wash away food particles from teeth.
- Avoid sticky, chewy foods like raisins, granola bars, jellybeans, caramel, and honey because they stick to teeth, making it difficult for saliva to wash away.
- Get your child into the habit of eating as few snacks as possible to minimize plaque development and tooth decay.
- Make sure your child is brushing and flossing their teeth every day. Fluoride toothpaste is critical to prevent tooth decay and other oral health problems.
- Your little one should see a dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.
As you can see, a nutritious diet benefits more than just children’s oral health. By encouraging your little one to eat the right foods, they can maintain a healthy smile and body for life!
About the Author
Dr. Angelica R. Rohner is passionate about helping children achieve their happiest, healthiest smiles. After earning her D.M.D. degree from the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry, she completed a two-year internship/residency program in Pediatric Dentistry at the Children’s Hospital of Alabama. Dr. Rohner is Board Certified in Pediatric Dentistry and is a Diplomat of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. For more children’s oral health tips, visit our website or call (205) 870-0892.
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