Dietary Habits and Dental Health

Taking care of your child's teeth starts with the foods they eat. There are plenty of foods that parents can give their children in order to encourage strong, healthy teeth and overall good oral health.

The Link Between Diet and Dental Health

Sugar is one of the top contributors to dental issues such as cavities. Even if you were to eliminate the obvious sources of sugar like ice cream, candy, or soda, Americans on average consume a surprising amount of sugar from sources like fruit juice or foods with hidden added sugars in their ingredients.

And sugar isn’t the only culprit.  The number of times your child snacks during the day can also affect their risk of cavities.  Starchy refined carbohydrates and acidic foods also wear down enamel or get stuck in between teeth, causing bacteria to build up. Popular foods that might be weakening your child's teeth include:

  • Pretzels, potato chips, gold fish, crackers and other starchy foods
  • Sticky foods like candy, fruit snacks
  • Juice, sports drinks, soda and chocolate milk
  • Pastries, cookies, and cakes
  • Syrups, honey and sugary condiments like ketchup
  • Sweetened yogurts
  • Breakfast cereals and granola

By first recognizing what causes cavities and other dental problems, keeping to a good hygiene regimen for your child, and attending regular dental checkups to make sure your dentist spots the early signs of decay, you and your child can still easily enjoy all of the foods listed above in moderation while preventing tooth decay from becoming a problem long-term.

Foods That Support Strong Teeth

Encouraging your kids to choose the right snacks and serving well-rounded meals helps build a strong set of teeth for life. And while the list of “no-no” foods feels long, the kinds of foods that support good dental and overall health are also plentiful.

Lean proteins

Meat, fish, poultry, tofu, eggs, and beans are high in protein, calcium, and phosphorus. Additionally, wild salmon is high in omega-3s and is also a source of the vitamin D, which helps the body to absorb calcium

Fruits and vegetables
Celery, apples, carrots, leafy greens, strawberries, kiwis, citrus, and more all help you produce saliva, are rich in vitamins and minerals that fight bacteria and keep you healthy, and many are crunchy or have a high water content, which makes them perfect snacks to act as natural toothbrushes.

Magnesium-rich foods
Whole grains like rice, corn, barley, wheat, and oats, as well as beans and legumes also support good dental health by strengthening tooth enamel and bones.

Cheese & dairy
Dairy products provide essential nutrients like calcium and protein that help build tooth enamel and strengthen teeth.

Modeling Good Eating Habits

As the saying goes: monkey-see, monkey-do. Setting better dietary habits as a family is the best way for everyone to experience less tooth decay and better overall wellness. Sharing healthy snacks and meals with your children models better lifelong dietary habits, encouraging them to reach for an apple or carrot stick instead of the crackers and soda next time. Inviting your little one into the kitchen is a great way to increase their exposure to healthy foods. If your child is hesitant to try different food options, make it playful! Let them explore a whole piece of broccoli, pick a strawberry from the stem or peel away leaves on a piece of lettuce. Increased exposure leads to increased confidence when approaching different foods.

Schedule Regular Check-ups for Your Child

Bringing your child to see our pediatric dentists in Muskego regularly will also help keep your child on track with their dental health through regular cleanings and exams in order to identify cavities and other dental issues early. Schedule a visit with us today and prioritize your child’s dental health!

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