How Does Diet Affect a Child’s Dental Health?

How Does Diet Affect a Child’s Dental Health?

by Douglas Liantonio (SU)

We all know that ensuring your child eats a well-balanced diet is important in keeping them healthy. But did you know that your child’s diet can also influence their dental health?

When your child eats a well-balanced diet that consists of healthy foods and liquids, it can lead to healthier teeth and gums. A good diet provides your child with the nutrients that are necessary for strong teeth and healthy gum tissue, as well as to protect them against infections of the mouth.

Foods That Can Harm Your Child’s Teeth

Let’s take a look at some foods and drinks that can be harmful to your child’s dental health:

Sticky Snacks

Sticky, sugary snack foods are one of the worst offenders when it comes to foods that are bad for your child’s dental health. Hard candy, fruit snacks, and gummies all contain very high amounts of sugar.

When sugary foods are eaten, they attract bacteria to the mouth. This bacteria then produces acids that go on to attack tooth enamel. When exposed to acid, tooth enamel begins to erode – which leads to tooth decay.

Therefore, try to avoid giving your child sticky and sugary foods. It is very difficult to remove stickiness from the teeth, because the substance gets stuck in the crevices of the teeth.

Sugary and Carbonated Beverages

Many sugary drinks disguised as “fruit juice” don’t contain much juice at all. Even juices that claim to be 100-percent fruit juice often contain very high sugar levels that can cause tooth decay.

Carbonated soft drinks can also hurt your child’s dental health. The acids, sugars, and sweeteners found in these drinks combine to cause tooth decay.

Even sugar-free diet sodas can erode tooth enamel because of the high acidic content. It is better for your child to drink water and milk instead.

Gum and Mints

Snacks such as gum and mints tend to linger in your child’s mouth for a long period of time as they melt or are chewed. This means that the sugars from these candies have a longer amount of time to coat the teeth with substances that will attract oral bacteria.

If candy is a must, it is best to choose one that is sugar-free.

White Flour 

Foods made with white flour – such as pasta, chips, and bread – can harm your child’s teeth. The white flour in these foods breaks down into simple sugars, and these sugars adhere to the teeth and can lead to tooth decay. 

Foods That Promote a Healthy Mouth

The following foods can help promote good oral health in your child:

Most Fruits

In addition to containing nutrients that are good for their teeth and gums, chewing on high-fiber, crunchy fruits (such as apples) can help scrub away excess plaque from your child’s teeth. However, certain citrus fruits, like grapefruit and lemon, are highly acidic and can erode your child’s tooth enamel over time.

If they do eat these fruits, encourage them to brush their teeth afterward.

Veggies 

Crunchy vegetables like celery and carrots are great for your child’s teeth and gums, because they contain a lot of water and fiber – which help balance the sugars and help clean teeth. These crunchy vegetables also require a lot of chewing, which helps to scrub plaque off of their teeth.

Celery also has fibrous strands that can act as a natural dental floss. Broccoli and leafy green veggies are also great for your child’s dental health, because they contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial folic acid.

Water with Fluoride 

From as early as birth, drinking water that contains fluoride is excellent for your child’s oral health. Most tap water contains fluoride; some bottled waters contain it, and others do not.

Eggs, Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese

Eggs contain calcium, protein, and vitamin D, which are all important for dental health. Vitamin D is a particularly excellent nutrient because it helps your body absorb calcium, which helps to build and maintain strong teeth. Milk, yogurt, and cheese all contain calcium, phosphorus, and casein, which help to protect tooth enamel.

Nuts 

Nuts – such as almonds, cashews, and peanuts – contain high amounts of calcium and phosphorus, which protect teeth by replenishing the healthy minerals that are stripped away by acids in other foods.

Family Dentistry in the Twin Cities 

At Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, we care about your child’s dental health – and we want to help ensure that they maintain outstanding oral health for a lifetime.

To schedule an appointment, please call our office at (651) 646-2392 or you can request an appointment online. Dr. Steven Hagerman looks forward to providing you and your family with the personalized care you deserve.