If you’re concerned about your child’s dental health, you’re probably focused on making regular dental appointments and teaching your child the right brushing and flossing habits. However, you may be forgetting what an important role food plays in children’s oral health.
Even with regular brushing and flossing, children who frequently snack on sugary or starchy foods are at higher risk for tooth decay.Take a look at the following advice for helping children make smart eating choices that will benefit their teeth and gums as well as their overall well-being.
Take a look at the following advice for helping children make smart eating choices that will benefit their teeth and gums as well as their overall well-being.
Eliminate Sugary Drinks at Bedtime
It can be tempting to give babies and toddlers a bottle of milk, formula or juice as they’re going to bed. However, the benefit of getting your child to sleep faster isn’t worth the increased risk of tooth decay that results from sustained exposure to the sugar in these drinks. Diluting fruit juices does not reduce the risk of tooth decay any more than the regular concentration of juice.
The American Dental Association recommends that babies and young children should always finish their bottles and sippy cups before naptime or bedtime.
If your children are used to taking a bottle to bed, try giving them bottles filled with water only. This step can reduce harm to their teeth while still giving them the comfort of a bottle.
Avoid Sustained Exposure to Sugar
All types of candy and sweets have the potential to cause cavities, so these foods should be limited as much as possible. If you’re giving kids a special treat, keep in mind that some sweets can be more harmful than others.
Sticky sweets, like toffee, caramel, and even dried fruit, tend to stick to the surfaces of children’s teeth, exposing them to sugar for longer periods of time.
Hard candies act in a similar way because children can take a long time to finish eating them. Sometimes these types of treats can leave sugar on teeth for hours, so limit or — if possible — eliminate these from your child’s diet.
Substitute Healthier Choices for Snack Time
If your kids constantly grab cookies or candy for snacks, try replacing Healthier snack choices that are better for their oral health. Nuts are healthy snack options that help fight against plaque. A piece of cheese also makes a great snack that many children will love, plus it benefits oral health by encouraging saliva production.
Try offering fresh fruits paired with cheese or vegetables that can satisfy while posing less risk of tooth decay. Remember that kids may not be excited about your healthier options at first, but if you keep offering these substitutes, they’ll often grow to enjoy them.
We do recommend drinking water after any snacks to help keep the spaces in between the teeth clean.
Reserve Problem Foods for Mealtimes
Sugary and starchy foods are problematic when it comes to dental health. While most people know that sweets are damaging, not many parents realize that starches from carbohydrates can also contribute to decay by getting stuck between teeth.
Help the fight against cavities by limiting your children’s sweets and starches to mealtimes. During meals people produce more saliva and typically drink water, which can help wash away some of the harmful particles that stick to teeth.
Cut Down on Daily Snacks
Snacking is a part of most kids’ daily routines, but it’s not the best habit for maintaining healthy teeth. Not only are children less likely to brush after a snack than after a meal, frequent snacking keeps oral acid levels higher for longer, which increases kids’ risk for developing cavities.
Some snacking is expected, but if your children are constantly eating little bits of food, try to reduce the number of snacks they have during the day. Whenever possible, help your children brush their teeth after each snack. At times when brushing isn’t possible, encourage children to rinse their mouths with water or simply give them more water to drink throughout the day.
Making smart food choices is an important way to maintain healthy teeth as well as a healthy body. By using these tips and helping your kids develop great eating habits, you’re giving them the right start to enjoy good dental health for the rest of their lives.
Bright smiles lead to a bright future.