Keeping your child’s teeth clean and healthy from a young age is one of the most important things you can do for them. While pediatric dentists like us here at Fox Kids Dentistry & Orthodontics are here to help, a truly vibrant and happy smile starts at home. Eating a healthy diet can help your child resist tooth decay.
How can kids make their teeth healthy in a world where so much food is bad for them? We’ll answer this question in the sections below. Know that you can help your kid experience healthier teeth by encouraging them to eat the right foods — and thanks to all the delicious, healthy options available, they could enjoy it, too!
What Foods Promote Good Dental Health for Kids?
Consuming the right food is essential to your child’s oral health. The good news is that these foods can be nutritious and delicious. But like most things, your child may have their own preferences.
Start introducing these healthy foods into your kid’s diet, and be patient with them as they determine the kinds they like, love or would rather not eat. You can also let your child know that these foods are good for their teeth. They may enjoy knowing they’re taking an active role in their dental hygiene.
Here are some of the best foods to support children’s healthy teeth and gums:
- Fruits: Fruits contain essential nutrients and textures that are great for your child’s dental health. But which fruit is best for teeth? Apples, pears and other crunchy fruits contain high amounts of fiber, helping to scrub plaque and food particles from teeth. These fruits can also massage the gums, helping to dislodge plaque and clean those hard-to-reach areas. Gentle citrus fruits like oranges may also be good for oral health, as they’re a good source of vitamin C and can induce salivation, which is the mouth’s natural cleaning agent. Just be sure not to over do it with fruits, especially the citrus fruits, as they contain natural sugars and acids.
- Vegetables: Raw or cooked, vegetables are a wonderful choice to include on your child’s plate for snacks or meals. Carrots and celery are two healthy options for removing plaque, as they’re crunchy and high in fiber. They also contain high water content, helping to wash away sugars and acids from tooth surfaces. Introduce your child to broccoli and leafy greens, which contain folic acid, calcium and vitamin K, which are all helpful for your child’s dental health.
- Calcium-rich foods: Calcium is one of the most important minerals for anyone’s tooth health. Healthy, low-fat dairy options like cheese, milk and yogurt are terrific sources of calcium. Look for dairy options that include vitamin D, as this vitamin helps your body absorb calcium. Some of the nutrients in milk can even help neutralize the acids from plaque bacteria.
- Protein-rich foods: Protein is fantastic for strengthening tooth enamel. Give your child lean meats like white fish, chicken and turkey. You can also add nuts and seeds to your child’s diet, including almonds, peanuts and sunflower seeds.
- Foods containing phosphorous: Phosphorous is good for strong teeth and is commonly found in many of the foods on this list. Foods like fish, eggs, lean meat, nuts, beans and dairy all contain healthy amounts of phosphorous. Eggs are an especially good choice, as they also contain vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption.
What Foods Should Kids Avoid to Maintain Good Oral Health?
Now that you know which foods are good for your child’s teeth, you need to know which they should avoid. Here’s a list of foods that can have a negative impact on your child’s dental well-being:
- Sugary foods and drinks: Sugar is one of the worst ingredients for anyone’s oral health, especially for children. The bacteria in plaque feed off sugars and convert them into an acid that can damage tooth enamel, leading to cavities. Be sure to limit your child’s access to sugary foods and beverages like candy, soda, sweet tea and sports drinks. Even sugar-free sodas can still harm your child’s teeth, as they contain acids that can erode tooth enamel.
- Strong citrus fruits and juices: Be wary of citrus fruits like lemons, limes and grapefruit. These strong citrus fruits are highly acidic, which can damage tooth enamel and aggravate sensitive gums. Be sure to read the ingredients in fruit juices, as many of them contain high amounts of natural and added sugars.
- Chewy candy: Chewy candy is especially notorious for contributing to cavities. The chewy texture causes the candy to stick to teeth for extended periods. This constant contact between the candy and teeth gives bacteria plenty of time to feed off the sugars, increasing your child’s risk of cavities.
- Foods high in simple starches: Foods like pasta, bread and chips may be tasty, but they’re bad for your child’s developing teeth. They contain high levels of simple starches, which the body easily converts into sugar. The starches also have a tendency to stick to teeth, giving bacteria a chance to develop and grow on tooth surfaces.
Tips for Helping Your Child’s Dental Health
Besides encouraging a healthy diet for your child, here are some other tips to help keep your kid’s mouth healthy and happy:
- Visit the dentist regularly: Regular dentist visits will help your child learn more about the importance of consistent dental care. Plus, the dentist will be able to professionally clean your child’s teeth, which is an important complement to your child’s dental hygiene routine at home.
- Encourage consistent brushing and flossing: Help your child learn how to brush and floss. You can even set aside time for you and your child to clean your teeth together, turning the moment into a bonding time. Talk to your child about the right technique so they can practice alongside you.
- Use smart snacking practices: Children want snacks that taste great. Luckily, you can get creative with healthy foods so your child can enjoy snack time while getting essential nutrients. Check out our blog for some healthy but sweet snack options your kid will love.
Contact Fox Kids Dentistry & Orthodontics to Schedule a Dental Appointment
We’re ready to meet you and your child and provide you with the pediatric dental services you’ve been looking for. Our team will help your child experience a cleaner, healthier mouth and lay the foundation for great oral hygiene for years to come. Whether you want to plan your child’s first visit or you need more information, we’d be happy to talk to you and help you take the next step.
Contact us online or by phone today to schedule your appointment!