There are a million things to remember when you’re a parent. Your kids’ needs can occupy a ton of your headspace, and it’s not uncommon for what they want to be out of alignment with what they need. Worrying about what they eat and drink is probably high on your priorities because we all want healthy kids. But did you realize that what they eat and drink can have an impact on their dental health as well?
According to the ADA (American Dental Association), “the mouth is a window into the health of the body.” They further inform readers that the gum disease of periodontitis has been linked to major health problems including cardiovascular disease, stroke, pneumonia, and even early birth and low birth weight for infants born to women with periodontitis. Taking care of your kids’ teeth will help promote their overall health. Start early to nurture healthy food appreciation by focusing on healthy snacks and drinks for your kids. We at Redwood Pediatric Dentistry have made you a list of Do-Eats and Don’t-Eats to make it easier for you.
Here is the “Do’s” list:
1. Do – Eat crunchy fruits like apples or pears.
If you’ve ever wondered “are apples good for your teeth,” breathe easy because we can tell you “yes they are”. Apples and pears are a sweet treat that are a good source of vitamins. Their high-water content helps lessen the effects of their (natural) sugars and the crunchiness also helps to scrub away tooth plaque.
2. Do – Eat crunchy veggies like celery, carrots.
Celery and carrots contain stellar amounts of vitamin A which is good for maintaining tooth enamel. Also, they’ll be scrubbing that plaque with all the chewing they will do!
3. Do – Eat leafy greens.
Spinach, kale, and broccoli are additional vegetables that are good for oral health. They contain folic acid which helps to maintain teeth and gum health.
4. Do – Eat Dairy.
Dairy snacks such as cheese and yogurt will help protect the tooth’s enamel because they are packed with calcium, casein, and phosphorous. Look for yogurts that are low in sugar, and cheeses that are low-fat.
5. Do – Eat Eggs.
Eating eggs promises more calcium, protein, and vitamin D for dental health. Vitamin D is a necessary component of oral health because it helps the body absorb the ever-important calcium.
6. Do – Eat Nuts.
Let your kid go nuts at snack time. Peanuts, almonds, and cashews are loaded with minerals such as calcium and phosphorous which protect their pearly whites by replenishing those minerals that can be eaten away by acids in other foods.
7. Do – Drink Water with Fluoride.
This is one of the best drinks for children’s teeth. According to the ADA, fluoride is a major defense player in fighting tooth decay, helping to prevent it by at least 25 percent in adults and children. Water will help to wash away sugars and acids left on teeth from foods, and the fluoride absorbed into tooth enamel through water and toothpaste will fight the good fight. Please beware that not all bottled water contains fluoride, if you have safe drinking water from the faucet in your home, use it to refill your kids favorite water bottle and know that you’re getting them the fluoride their teeth need. We also recommend doing fluoride treatments, read more about why we recommend them and what not to eat after a fluoride treatment in our post, ‘Why is Fluoride Important to My Child’s Dental Health?‘.
8. Do – Drink Milk.
Is milk good for your teeth? If your kid likes to drink milk, no problem. Milk has nutrients that help to counteract the harmful acids produced by plaque bacterias. If you feel the need to give a sweet drink, consider adding your own mix of cocoa powder and a small amount of sugar. This gives you control over the amount of sugar going into the drink, as opposed to already sweetened cocoa which may be loaded with sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup.
9. Do – Drink Homemade Juices.
Pre-made juices, or juices made from concentrate contain large amounts of sugars. If you want to give your kids juice, consider making your own at home to have control over how much sugar is added. Tip, try to stick with fruits that are not acidic.
Now for the Don’ts list:
1. Don’t – Eat chewy candies.
It’s no secret that candy contains loads of sugars and is generally considered bad for your teeth. The chewy candies are more likely to get stuck in teeth nooks and crannies and cause enamel erosion. Sour candies are generally considered even worse for teeth because their high acidity in combination with the stickiness is a double whammy on teeth. If your kids do eat candies, be sure to brush well afterward and rinse with water!
2. Don’t – Eat chips, pasta, or white bread.
While these foods are admittedly delicious and often favorites of kids, beware! These starchy foods are simple carbohydrates and when broken down, transform into simple sugars that contribute to tooth decay. Try to convert your kids to whole wheat versions of these foods.
3. Don’t – Eat sugary cereals.
Sugary cereals appeal to kids because of their bright-colored boxes and fun mascots but know that those sugars and corn syrups can do a number on teeth. Look for unfrosted cereals, or even try making your own granola at home.
4. Don’t – Eat dried fruits.
You might think that dried fruits for a snack are a healthy option. The problem with dried fruits, unfortunately, is their stickiness and the reality that they often contain sugars.
5. Don’t – Drink sodas or other sugary drinks.
Soda is a bad one for teeth, not only does it contain zero nutritional value, but it’s sugar content combined with the acidic content from the carbonation are tough on tooth enamel. Bottled juices or sports drinks should also be avoided because of their high sugar content and acidity.
6. Don’t – Eat lemons.
Are lemons bad for your teeth? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C and other nutrients, but highly acidic fruits can wreak havoc on tooth enamel. Avoid grapefruits and lemons especially for this reason.
We know it can be tough monitoring these things, especially because some of the foods and drinks on the Don’t list are so prevalent and easy to grab when you’re on the go. Just do your best, and work on instilling the habit of brushing teeth twice a day, and flossing daily for healthy gums.
Here at Redwood Pediatric Dentistry, we are dedicated to helping you get your children started with healthy dental habits early in life. Give us a call today and schedule an appointment for your child, it’s never too early to start!