Children with healthy teeth are more likely to grow into adults with healthy smiles. Your child’s diet not only affects their overall health, but their oral health as well. Foods and drinks that contain sugars of any type can contribute to tooth decay. Most items found in your local grocery store will contain nutrition facts and sugar contents on the label. Many of your child’s favorite items may have a low sugar alternative.
Healthy Choices for your child
Introducing yogurt, cheese or other milk products with meals or as a snack can be a great alternative to carbohydrates. Food and drink items containing dairy can help increase pH levels in the oral cavity, which can help decrease the acids produced by cavity causing bacteria. The Calcium and vitamin D available in dairy products can also aid in enamel protection. Fruits and vegetables such as, strawberries and apples, that contain vitamin C can strengthen gum tissue and can act as a natural plaque removing abrasive when extensive chewing is required.
Tips to Prevent Decay
If possible regulate the amount of sticky sugary foods and candies your child consumes such as taffies, caramels, raisins and gummies. These items get stuck in the grooves of your teeth and may sit there until brushed out. Sugary food items are better served with meals, than as a snack in between meals. This allows for the increased saliva needed for digestion to help rinse these sugars away. The action of chewing gum containing xylitol can also increase salivary flow and can be a natural abrasive to naturally rinse away food particles.
Juices with high sugar contents should also be limited for 4-6 oz. per day. Try diluting your child’s juice to decrease the sugar content. Although sodas and juices that are high in sugar should be limited, introducing water in the oral cavity can help to neutralize the pH and decrease the harmful effects. Water is also the liquid of choice for babies at bedtime instead milk, formula, juice, or soda. It is important for infants and children to start an oral care routine twice a day, as well as attend their regular six month dental checkups. These habits along with a healthy diet can help lead your child to a lifetime of good oral health.