Maintaining a healthy diet is important for your child’s oral health as what they eat and drink can have an impact on their teeth. Bacteria can build up on your teeth in a sticky layer called plaque. When this plaque comes in contact with sugars the bacteria releases acids that attack the tooth enamel. How long these sugars remain on the teeth is the main factor behind tooth decay. Whilst your child will need some sugar for energy, there are ways to ensure you can stick to healthy guidelines and protect your child’s teeth.
Avoid sugary drinks
Whilst babies and toddlers love sweet drinks such as cordials and fruit juice, they do not need them and they can lead to tooth decay. Even milk contains sugar. It is best to offer your child water as it does not harm the teeth and helps in washing away any food particles attached to the teeth. It is best to limit milk to drink at mealtimes. It is important to never put your baby to bed with a bottle of juice, cordial, milk or formula which would allow you child’s teeth to be washed with sugar over a long period of time.
Foods to avoid
Chewy and sticky foods such as dried fruit, muesli bars and chewy lollies stick to the teeth making it hard for saliva to wash the sugar away. Likewise, hard lollies that are sucked in the mouth continuously bathe the teeth with sugar. If your child does have them, make sure that their teeth are brushed straight after. You could save the sweet treats for mealtimes when there is usually more saliva in the mouth to wash the sugar away from the teeth. It’s good to check food labels and choose low sugar or sugar free options.
It is best to limit the amount of snacking between meals as constant snacking continually feeds the bacteria on your child’s teeth. When you child does snack offer fresh fruit and vegetables, such as apples, pears, celery and cucumber, instead. Cheddar cheese is also a great option. These foods will help to trigger the flow of saliva helping to wash food particles away.
A balanced diet filled with calcium rich foods, such as cheese, milk and yoghurt, as well leafy greens, such as broccoli and spinach, lean meats and fatty fish will give your child all the nutrients they need to build strong healthy teeth and gums.
Plenty of water
It is important that your child drinks plenty of water during the day. This will help to maintain the production of saliva which neutralise acids on the teeth and helps to rinse the mouth and wash food particles away.
Make sure your child has a regular oral health routine, with twice daily brushing and daily flossing. Regular visits to the dentist will also ensure that your child’s teeth stay healthy and are growing as they should.