Whether your kids are taking their first bites of solid food or they’ve started to replace their baby teeth with adult teeth, it’s normal to wonder exactly how the foods they consume might be affecting their oral health. Naturally, the main concern is that they’re receiving adequate nutrition for overall health, but if you can choose foods that do double duty to protect teeth, why wouldn’t you? Here are just a few items you might want to add to keep your children’s teeth strong and healthy.
- Dairy products. Milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products are beneficial in a variety of ways. As you probably know, the calcium in dairy helps to strengthen bones in the body, and this extends to teeth. In addition, these foods can help to balance the pH in the mouth, reducing acidity that can damage enamel and lead to tooth decay.
- Crisp veggies. Kids might not be keen on bitter, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts, but other crisp veggies like carrots, celery, and snap peas should be more to their liking. What do kids get from eating these foods? Crisp, raw veggies are not only a great way for kids to get needed vitamins and other nutrients, but the act of chewing them also helps to scrape away film and bacteria that can build up on teeth and turn into tartar and plaque.
- Foods with vitamin C. A variety of red, orange, and yellow fruits and veggies, including strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, oranges, papaya, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, and more can provide vitamin C that not only boosts your child’s immune system, but also kills harmful bacteria in the mouth. Just make sure they avoid brushing for a short while after eating since the acid present in many of these foods can temporarily weaken enamel.
- Protein. The phosphorous in protein is an essential part of maintaining good oral health, and kids need adequate portions of meat, eggs, tofu, beans, or other sources of protein. If your children are picky, consider adding nuts to their diet. These tasty snacks contain needed protein, with the added benefit of oils that can help to strengthen tooth enamel.
- Sugarless treats. Kids love candy and sugary snacks, but dentists would prefer that you avoid them like the plague, due to the damage they can cause, including cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. Instead of offering kids cookies or candy, stick with naturally sweet alternatives like fruit and veggies, and offer only sugar-free gum.