Why good nutrition is important for children’s oral health

Why good nutrition is important for children’s oral health

A balanced diet ensures your child is getting the nutrients they need for proper development and optimal oral health.

If your child eats sugary treats and drinks sweet beverages like soda and sweetened fruit juices often, they could be doing damage to their teeth, as well as their overall health. Food choices are extremely important for children, as they are more prone to tooth decay than adults. A healthy, balanced diet also contributes to proper development and resistance to infections. Here’s how you can help your child to stay healthy.

Choose healthy drinks

While soda and fruit juices are some of the more common culprits when it comes to tooth decay, there are actually a number of healthier alternatives available. Water is the best bet, but if your child wants some variety, milk is also a good option. It’s packed with protein and calcium, which helps to strengthen the teeth and bones. Vegetable juices are also often a good choice — just be sure to check the ingredients for added sugar.

Avoiding milk before bedtime or after brushing i.e. bottles for babies/toddlers is also recommended as milk holds a lot of natural sugars. Rising or drinking water after juices or any sugary drinks may also help.

Limit sweet snacks

The problem with sugary snacks is that when they enter the mouth, bacteria convert the sugars into acids, which then causes damage to the enamel of the teeth and eventually leads to tooth decay and cavities. Sweets, particularly those that are sticky or hard, are among the worst because they stay in the mouth for a long time, which means that the teeth are exposed to the sugar for longer periods at a time. Also, sweets are not the only problematic snacks — starchy foods like bread, potato chips and pizza also contain sugars and can cause damage if they become stuck to the teeth.

It’s also important to note that continuous snacking can cause damage to your teeth because harmful acids form every time that you eat a sugary treat. In fact, the effects of the acids can last for around 20 minutes, so the more often you snack, the more often the bacteria in your mouth are turning sugar to acid.

Go for nourishing foods

Even if you limit your child’s intake of sugary foods, there are still a number of sweet treats available — fresh fruits and berries, for example, make healthy and tasty snacks. Raw vegetables are also a good option — chop up some celery, carrots and cucumbers into sticks for an easy-to-pack lunchbox snack.

When it comes to meal times, try and incorporate some calcium-rich dairy products like cheese and natural yoghurt, as well as fatty fishes like salmon. Broccoli and leafy greens like kale and spinach are also high in calcium and can help to strengthen the enamel of the teeth.

Lead by example

One of the best ways to promote good nutrition and an understanding of the value of good overall health is to be a good example for your child. Teach them about the importance of healthy habits from an early age, and make healthy, balanced meals the norm in your home.

When it comes to oral health, educate your children about the effects of sugar, and demonstrate good oral hygiene. It’s also a good idea to bring your child in for a dental check-up as soon as their first baby tooth erupts. This will allow them to get comfortable with the dental office from a young age.

For more information on keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy, please take a look at our children’s dentistry page. We are happy to see children of all ages. We also accept patients under the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.

To make an appointment for a dental check-up for you or your child, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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