Choosing Smile-Friendly Foods for Your Child
Teaching your child about taking care of their health at a young age not only helps to set them up to lead a healthy lifestyle as they age, but also ensures that they receive the vital nutrients and minerals they need to grow up strong.
One important part of managing your mini-me’s oral health is to focus on the foods that they’re eating. Keep reading to learn our list of do’s and don’ts:
4 Foods to Avoid
Limiting foods that can increase bacteria growth, plaque build-up, and those that potentially could cause damage to your child’s teeth can help keep their smile bright. Here are some top snacks to avoid:
1. Chewy Candy
Candies such as taffy, caramel, Sour Patch Kids, and other sticky, sour gummies are especially bad for your child’s teeth if they have braces. These candies tend to stick to our teeth for a long time, which can weaken and erode our enamel. For patients with braces, these sweets can get stuck in between brackets and cause a dental headache.
2. Soda and Carbonated Drinks
Carbonated sodas, fruit juices, and other sweet drinks cause plaque to build on the teeth, creating acid which attacks the tooth’s enamel. It’s best to steer your child clear of these drinks to protect their smile. Plus — most sodas are loaded with sugar, and some are a dark color, which can also stain their teeth.
3. Starchy Foods
Bread, chips, pretzels, and other similar snacks primarily consist of starches. As your child chews, saliva breaks down this starch and turns it into sugar — which sticks in between their teeth and can cause cavities.
Not all bread is off-limits however, opt for bread that is made from whole wheat or whole grains, as these are less refined and contain less added sugars.
4. Citrus Fruits
Though eating most fruits is healthy for your smile, citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits can erode your child’s enamel. This makes their teeth more vulnerable to decay, and can also irritate any mouth sores they may have.
A good alternative to these vitamin C-rich fruits is to take a daily multivitamin, or eat them in moderation and ensure your child rinses their mouth with water directly after.
6 Teeth Friendly Foods
Now that you know which foods to avoid adding to your shopping list, here are some that are good to include!
Eggs are surprisingly good for your little one’s teeth as they contain vitamins D and K, phosphorus, and other vital minerals. Whether they’re sunny side up or scrambled, introducing more eggs to your child’s diet will benefit their oral health.
2. High Fiber Fruits
Did you know that pears are one of the most fibrous fruits? In fact, pears have the largest acidic neutralizing effect of any fruit — and they’re great in a salad, or simply whole!
Pears, apples, raspberries, strawberries, and other fruits are full of fiber and help stimulate natural saliva production. Adding fresh fruits to your child’s diet will help you reduce the acidity of their mouth and help protect the surface of their teeth.
3. Leafy Greens
Just like pears, celery is a fibrous, crunchy food that requires lots of chewing. This chewing stimulates saliva production. The natural strands of celery also help clean your teeth, all while you munch on it. For the best oral benefits, you should eat celery in its raw form.
Not only are leafy greens helpful for your body, but they can also promote your oral health. They contain calcium which can help build your teeth's enamel which helps protect and strengthen your teeth. Leafy greens also contain folic acid, which can potentially help treat gum disease. Some great options for your little one include:
- Collard greens
- Bok choy
If your mom made you drink milk daily when you were younger, you probably now know why! Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products have high levels of calcium which help to build strong bones — including your child’s teeth.
Dairy products also contain phosphates and vitamin D, which are two other important nutrients that help to support strong teeth.
5. Nuts and Seeds
When acid passes over our teeth, it wears down our enamel. Nuts and seeds contain many of the minerals your child’s teeth need to build strong enamel and are a great snack in replacement of chips or pretzels. However, if your child has traditional metal braces, you may want to consult with your orthodontist before adding this one to the menu, as nuts could break a bracket.
Your child may love an ice-cold lemonade or iced tea, but these drinks are packed with sugar for the most part. Water is a healthier option that can help limit their intake of added sugar while helping to improve their overall oral health. If you want to add flavor to their water, try adding fresh fruit and let it sit for a few hours!
Start Your Child’s Journey at Total Kids Dental
At Total Kids Dental, we go above and beyond patient expectations by creating a space where children feel heard, respected, and safe.
Our compassionate dentist, along with our leading and compassionate staff, provide children with the following benefits:
- Gentle & easy-to-understand treatments.
- Honest and personable communication.
- Playful, creative, and interactive atmosphere.
- Bilingual staff (Farsi & Spanish).
- A trusted team of providers.