If you want to help your child develop and keep their oral health strong, you’ll want to have them brush and floss but also consume healthy foods and drinks. As they grow, help them have proper jaw growth, strengthen and remineralize their chompers and stay hydrated to keep their mouth and saliva healthier. Today we’re talking about how you can set your child onto a path to great dental (and overall) health.
Smile- and Body-Friendly Foods
Lean meats, nuts, and proteins: Besides being good for their growing bodies by building tissue in the body, protein also helps to strengthen their tooth enamel. Think turkey, chicken, white fish, eggs, beans and tofu for maturing bodies. Keep snacks healthy by providing nuts which also give them the energy they need for their active bodies. Nuts that are also low in carbohydrates help avoid cavities that can arise from high-carb nuts by activating oral bacteria that create harmful acids. Healthier choices like Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and pecans are way better for their teeth! As your child bites and chews protein in tough nuts and meats, this also helps them grow stronger jaws and lowers their odds of having bite problems.
Raw, crunchy veggies: Like nuts and meat, getting your child to regularly consume firm, crunchy foods will help their jaw development. That’s because chewing firm foods helps widen their dental arch which lessens their odds of having a bite problem called malocclusion. Tuck these raw vegetables into their lunches whenever possible – celery, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower and keep these veggies washed and cut up in the fridge for easy access.
High water content fruits: These make super healthy snacks! Think watermelon, pears, celery, and cucumbers with the bonus benefit of scrubbing the teeth when chewing. Also, offer them high water content and crunchy fruits that promote healthy saliva production, by stocking up on apples and pears. Saliva keeps the mouth healthy by clearing away food particles, lowering oral acids and boosting overall health.
Calcium-rich cheeses and low-fat dairy: Do your kids like cheddar, Swiss or Monterey Jack cheese? Chewing these tasty cheeses promotes saliva flow while providing essential calcium for their developing bodies (700 mg daily for kids 1-3 years old, 1000 mgs daily for kids 4-8 and 1300 mgs daily for your 9 to 18 year old). Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are also high in phosphorus, which, along with calcium, remineralize teeth after being exposed to acidic foods and drinks. If your child has dairy allergies, spinach, kale, collard greens, red meat, canned salmon, sardines, winged beans, white beans, and navy beans are great alternatives!
Vitamin C: Fruits like oranges, limes, tangerines, kiwis, cantaloupe, papaya, mangoes and strawberries destroy harmful oral bacteria while veggies like red, yellow and orange peppers, tomatoes and sweet potatoes do too!
Sugarless gum: Chewing Xylitol-sweetened or sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after a meal helps keep cavities away when your child can’t brush their teeth. Xylitol lowers oral bacteria while chewing generates saliva production, that clears out lingering stray food particles around the teeth. Since younger kids like to swallow their chewing gum, wait until your child is old enough to understand that they need to drop it in the trash when they are done (around 4 years old and over).
Hydration: Help your child skip sweetened juices, sodas and sports drink that lead to tooth decay. Instead, provide them with plenty of cool, clear water. Do they like tap water? That’s even better as it is fluoridated which reduces harmful oral bacteria. Water is the best all-around rehydrator to help your child navigate the summer heat and fight cavities! Make sure they have a flask of water when they are on the go.
If you have any questions about which tooth-friendly foods and drinks your child can enjoy all year round, not just during the summer season, give our pediatric dental team a call today!