August 22, 2022
Avoid sweets, sugary and carbonated drinks, most fruit, most refined carbohydrates and pickles. Isn’t that the information that is given out about how to keep your kids’ teeth healthy, or at least to avoid them developing too many cavities?
It’s not that easy to introduce a children’s diet to promote healthy teeth, is it? What with sweets and candies available at every market and round just about every corner, and carbonated drinks, sugary cereals and fruits galore, there are a lot of temptations. Then, don’t forget the delicious additions to lunches like pickles and tomato sauce.
Don’t get me wrong, you really should try to help your kids avoid foods that can harm their teeth. After all, tooth enamel is the strongest tissue in the human body, but it is not impenetrable and certainly not invincible. There are creepy little bacteria that can sneak into the smallest spot of weakness and begin to eat away at the tooth. Tadah! A cavity has begun.
Sugary foods, including sweets and fruits, particularly canned fruits in syrup, can create an environment in which those sneaky bacteria in the mouth will thrive, which can lead to cavities. Biting some harder candies can actually damage your kids’ teeth and soft candies can stick to their teeth, promoting the growth of harmful bacteria. Then, acidic foods, such as pickles, vinegary foods and even tomatoes, can begin to erode the enamel.
Add to that most refined carbs, such as crisps, French fries and other yummy food that kids love and even dried fruit that contain extra sugar.
Then, there are those foods that are good for the teeth, such as green, leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale and lettuce) and dairy products, which are rich in calcium and help to build enamel.
With so many foods around that are not good to have in a children's diet to promote healthy teeth, what can you do to create a teeth friendly diet for kids?
The key is balance.
Don’t necessarily ban your kids from eating sweets, refined carbs and pickles, and only allow them to eat useful foods, such as dairy products, green veg and eggs. Perhaps, your kids can eat candy and other sugary food once in a while. If they do, then they should learn to rinse their mouths out afterwards. This is also important if they eat soft refined carbs, which can stick to their teeth.
Encourage them to eat fruits that are lower in sugar, such as melons, peaches and berries (preferably fresh, not dried).
Let the saying ‘an apple a day’ become part of their daily routine. Apples stimulate an alkaline saliva flow that effectively combats the build-up of acid, which can lead to cavities being formed.
Where possible, discourage your kids from drinking fruit juices and energy drinks. If they do want to, then dilute them with water, to lower the level of sugar your kids will consume.
Avoid too much sugar in your kids’ diet overall: not only candies and syrups, but also sugary drinks, carbohydrates and canned fruit in syrup.
Only use dark-colored foods, such as tomato sauce, soy sauce and red pasta sauce, minimally, as these can discolor the teeth.
Make sure that dairy products are an important part of a teeth health friendly diet for kids. Eating cereal with milk for breakfast can be a healthy start, but make sure that the cereals are not sugary. Use cheese as a filling for sandwiches. Offer yogurt with fresh (healthy) fruit for pudding at dinner time.
This may sound crazy, but a teeth health friendly diet for kids is not only about what they take in, but how they treat their teeth. Set a routine for your kids from early on, so that they learn to rinse their mouths out after meals, particularly when they have eaten acidic or sugary foods, and brush and floss twice daily with toothpaste that contains fluoride.
Setting your kids on a path that limits their intake of harmful foods and keeping their teeth clean will make sure that you create a teeth health friendly diet for kids.