Most of us would agree that there's a connection between what we eat and the condition of our bodies. It's only natural that this connection exists between our diet and our teeth. Although they're young and usually quite healthy, children's dental health depends upon a healthy diet that's low in sugars and high in flossing and brushing to remove the sugars that are eaten.
We know that it's impossible to avoid all sugars and other carbohydrates that have the potential to damage a child's teeth. After all, both kids and adults enjoy treats like ice cream, birthday cake and the occasional cookie or candy bar. However, as in the rest of life, what's done 90% of the time matters the most. By serving healthy foods at home from a young age, and limiting sugars and other refined carbohydrates, you, the parent, are setting the stage for your child's preference for healthy foods.
Dr. Kherani's Tips for Diet and Dental Health
The best food choices for the health of your mouth include cheeses, chicken or other meats, nuts, and milk. These foods are thought to protect tooth enamel by providing the calcium and phosphorus needed to remineralize teeth (a natural process by which minerals are redeposited in tooth enamel after being removed by acids).
Other food choices include firm/crunchy fruits (for example, apples and pears) and vegetables. These foods have a high water content, which dilutes the effects of the sugars they contain, and stimulate the flow of saliva (which helps protect against decay by washing away food particles and buffering acid). Acidic foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and lemons, should be eaten as part of a larger meal to minimize the acid from them.
The best beverage choices include water (especially fluoridated water), milk, and unsweetened tea. Limit consumption of sugar-containing drinks, including soft drinks, lemonade, and coffee or tea with added sugar. Also, avoid day-long sipping of sugar-containing drinks -- day-long sipping exposes the teeth to constant sugar and, in turn, constant decay-causing acids.
A diet low in sugar and other refined carbohydrates not only avoids cavities, but also promotes healthy gum tissue.
Keep "sneaky" sugars to a minimum and, if you can't, be sure your child brushes soon after eating or drinking these foods or, at least, rinses the mouth after eating them:
- Peanut butter, almond butter
- Dried fruits
- Crunchy starches like potato chips that get caught between the teeth.
- Juices: choose fresh, whole fruits instead
- Sports drinks
- These acidic foods can damage enamel
- Sour candies like Sour Skittles and Starburst
- Clear sodas like 7-up and Sprite are more acidic than colas