Nutrition plays a huge role in how strong your child's teeth and bones form. You can help your kids develop and grow by encouraging healthy foods in their diet. The right foods can help teeth and enamel stay strong and healthy. Here are some common foods that can help with your children's oral health.
Calcium builds strong bones, and the same is true for teeth. The calcium in dairy products strengthens the minerals in bones and enamel on your child's teeth. Some dairy products have an additional benefit beyond the calcium; they promote the production of saliva. Saliva protects against bacteria on the teeth. Dairy products such as yogurt and cheese can help neutralize the pH levels in the mouth. Flavored milks, such as chocolate and strawberry milk may contain lots of sugar that lessen the health benefits, so make sure you read the label.
While some children are picky about meat, most kids have a few types of meat they enjoy. Whether it's chicken or beef, the phosphorus in most animal proteins is an important ingredient for healthy teeth and gums. If your child doesn't like meat, consider increasing protein through eggs, as the yolk has high levels of phosphorous.
If your family prefers not to consume meat or animal products, beans, tofu and nuts are excellent sources of protein.
Whole grains are unrefined grains that preserve the healthy parts such as the fiber and nutritious component. In addition, whole grains have magnesium that is helpful in building tooth enamel. Refined carbohydrates are grains that are broken down into simple sugars that are not as nutritious and are more cavity-causing than whole grains.
Produce in all forms is full of the vitamins and minerals your child's body needs for healthy teeth and bones. For example, Vitamin C strengthens connective tissue in the blood vessels and mouth, which helps keep teeth in place. Vitamin C is found in peppers, berries, citrus fruits, dark green vegetables, melons and potatoes. Be cautious with fruits that are acidic because exposure to the acids can damage the enamel. Be sure your child drinks water after enjoying fruits, to help wash the sugars and acids off of the teeth.
Crunchy fruits and vegetables, such as apples and carrots, are also beneficial because they help scrub away plaque that builds up on children's teeth. Celery has been described as "nature's floss" because of its fibrous strands and high water content, both of which help improve the health of the teeth.
The Bottom Line About Oral Health
If you're looking over this list and thinking that your child is already eating many of these foods, good for you! Keeping your child's teeth strong and healthy through diet is not hard. It simply requires a balanced diet with attention to dairy, proteins, whole grains and produce. Incorporate these foods, along with regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkups will help your kids have strong, healthy teeth for many years to come.
Darla Scheidt is the Marketing Director for Grove Dental Associates, a group dental practice with 4 offices in the DuPage County area in Chicago's western suburbs, with 30+ dentists and decades of experience in every type of dental specialty.