According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 20% of children aged 5-11 have at least one decaying tooth. While brushing and flossing can help reduce the risk of cavities and tooth decay, there is another thing you can do to help your child have the best possible oral health – monitor and control their diet.
The time to start helping your children have healthier teeth and gums is before they even have their first baby tooth. The diet from an early age will serve them well as they grow older.
How Does a Child’s Diet Affect Their Oral Health?
To be healthy, people of all ages need food from every major food group. While the biggest villain is sugar, other foods can also affect your child’s oral health.
For example, babies who are given juice or sweetened beverages in their bottles or sippy cups are at greater risk for tooth decay.
For older children, eating sticky or sweet foods play a huge role in tooth decay. But not eating enough healthy foods in general can also affect their oral health.
Specifically, how does poor oral health affect your child’s life? Here are some statistics from the CDC.
- Over half of children between the ages of 6 and 8 have had at least one cavity in their baby teeth.
- More than half aged 12-19 adolescents have had at least one cavity in a permanent tooth.
You can help your child avoid tooth decay by helping them establish healthy eating habits from the beginning.
9 Ways to Help Your Child Eat for Better Oral Health
Do you need some specific tips for helping your child eat in ways that will benefit their oral health? Below, we list some of the best tips from the experts in pediatric dentistry.
1. Make Healthy Food the Norm
If your family eats healthy food every day, it will become the norm for your children. Avoid making a big deal of eating healthy food. Eating should equate to automatically choosing healthy foods.
2. Limit Snacking
Snacking too frequently affects oral health because children need time between meals to allow saliva to flush away bacteria-laden food particles.
3. Ditch the Sticky Foods
Sticky foods such as raisins, granola bars, dried figs, jelly beans, gummy bears, molasses, and honey stick to the teeth. If your kids eat these foods, have them brush their teeth right after eating.
4. Serve Cheese for Snacks and Meals
Cheese provides calcium, but there is also a link between cheese and fewer cavities. This is because aged cheeses trigger increased saliva flow, which in turn washes away food particles from your child’s teeth.
Speaking of calcium, make sure your children consume plenty of high-calcium foods and beverages in their diet, including milk and yogurt.
5. Make Water Their Primary Beverage
Your child’s main beverage should be water. Also, don’t fall into the trap of offering your children flavored water. This encourages them to prefer flavored water over plain water.
6. Serve Plenty of Vegetables
Vegetables serve a lot of nutritional purposes, and they also affect the quality of your child’s oral care.
7. Offer Whole Grains Instead of Processed Grains
Instead of foods such as white bread and white rice, serve whole grain bread and brown rice.
8. Make Healthy Eating Fun
Remember ants on a log? This simple healthy snack is just celery sticks that are stuffed with peanut butter then studded with raisins. Anytime you can make healthy eating more fun, it will be a win for you and your child.
9. Provide Fewer Sugar Snacks
Everyone knows that sugar is the enemy of good oral care. For the occasional sweet treat, serve sugary desserts or treats with your child’s meals instead of as a snack.
If you have more questions, contact us on tips to keep your child’s teeth as healthy as possible. With the right diet and solid oral care routine, you can avoid cavities and other costly and sometimes painful dental treatments. Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics can help, and our team is here to answer your questions. Contact us today for more information.