The foods that kids eat are just as important to their dental health as their overall health. Many kids crave foods and snacks that taste good, but are devastating to their teeth and gums. While it is okay for the occasional cookie or piece of candy, sugars and starches should be limited and consumed in moderation.
A balanced diet of low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes will not only help your child grow bigger, stronger and smarter, but will also strengthen their teeth and gums and lower their risk of dental decay and disease.
Healthy snack options for kids that benefit their teeth and gums include:
- Low-fat yogurt
- Cheddar cheese
- Crunchy vegetables like carrot and celery sticks
- Fruits such as apples and watermelon
- Unsalted almonds and peanuts
- Coconut flakes
- Whole grain pita chips and hummus
- Sunflower seeds
It can be hard to get your child to savor healthy snacks, so don’t be afraid to get creative and blend snacks together. You can mix in berries into the plain, low-fat yogurt, spread low-fat cream cheese onto plain celery sticks or serve ranch dressing or hummus with the crunchy vegetables as a dip.
Beware of Constant Snacking
Even healthy snacks can compromise your child’s oral health. Allowing your child to snack constantly will take away the dental health benefits of a healthy diet. A habit of constant snacking (whether the snacks are nutritious or not) will hinder the mouth’s ability to clean itself and eliminate the germs and plaque that build up to cause cavities. The more frequently food is consumed, the more plaque that will build up in between teeth and on top of teeth.
The destructive impact of plaque to the teeth is heightened in foods that are high in sugar and simple carbohydrates. When food is consumed, the sugars within them produce an acid that eats away the tooth enamel. When this protective, outer layer of the tooth is weakened or destroyed, the bacteria and germs from the food can more easily penetrate the inside of a tooth.
The frequency of your child’s snacking should be limited to one or two snacks a day in between meals to reduce the risk of plaque build-up, regardless of what the snack is.
Good children’s dental hygiene also includes twice-daily brushing and once-a day flossing. It is recommended that your child brushes his or her teeth for two minutes using kid-friendly fluoride toothpaste.
A healthy, balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains and low-fat dairy products is essential in your building up your child’s dental health. The health benefits of nutritious snacks, however, are reduced if too much snacking is done during the day.
A good diet and limited snacking are not enough to better your child’s dental health. Good oral hygiene practices of daily brushing and flossing as well as routine teeth cleanings and exams by our dentists are also needed for optimal dental health.
If it has been over six months since your child’s last dental cleaning and exam, contact us at Out of This World Dentistry today to schedule an appointment.