Diet and Snacking
One of the major causes of dental cavities has to do with what your child eats and drinks on a regular basis. A healthy diet is not only essential to helping your child grow and develop, but can also help prevent dental cavities. Dr. Baker understands that fighting dental decay is a joint effort between the parent(s) and the dental team. So, let’s work together to help your child fight tooth decay and have a healthy smile.
What does a healthy diet consist of?
Remember, a healthy diet is all about balance. Your child needs essential nutrients to grow, and a balanced diet will help. Make sure your child eats from all the five major food groups:
1) Fruits; 2) Vegetables; 3) Grains – brown rice, quinoa, oats, and pasta; 4) Protein Foods – meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds, soy products, beans, and peas; and 5) Dairy – yogurt, cheese, and milk.
Does my child’s diet affect their teeth and gums?
A balanced diet (outlined above) is essential to help teeth develop and to maintain healthy gum tissue around teeth. Diets that are high in sugar or starch can increase your child’s chances of developing dental cavities. Candy, soda, juice, chocolate milk are some of the more obvious foods/snacks/drinks that can cause dental cavities. Foods with starch can also cause cavities, which include breads, pasta, potato chips and crackers.
Almost all foods have sugar, but processed foods tend to have more sugar and additives that are not only bad for your child’s teeth, but also bad for their overall health. This is not to say that you should never give your child candy or juice, but try not to give it to them all the time. The key to healthy teeth and gums starts with a balanced diet. If your child consumes foods/snacks/drinks high in sugar or starch, make sure you spend extra time cleaning your child’s teeth (brushing and flossing) to minimize their risk of developing dental cavities.
Should I not give my child any foods or drinks with sugar?
The short answer is no. Many food/drink choices have sugar and are essential for a growing child. However, I’m sure you have heard of the old saying, “everything in moderation.” This is especially true with foods/snacks/drinks high in sugar. These types of foods/drinks are safer when eaten with a meal rather than as a snack. Foods that are sticky and/or crunchy – dried fruit, fruit roll-ups, Twix, and Snickers, just to name a few – get stuck to teeth more easily and are harder to remove, which is why they are more likely to cause cavities. Sugary drinks – juice, Gatorade, chocolate/strawberry milk, soda, and energy drinks, just to name a few – are mainly responsible for causing cavities between teeth, which is why water is always the better choice. Thus, it’s best to avoid giving your child these types of foods/snacks/drinks on a regular basis.
What are some examples of healthy snacks that my child should be eating?
Healthier snack choices that can be beneficial to your child’s teeth include nuts, yogurt (choose yogurt that is low in sugar), and cheese. Remember, water is your child’s best friend! If your child enjoys juice, you can purchase crystal light and add it to water to give it some flavor.