Oral Well-being in Kids: How Food Affects Dental Health

If you are a parent, no doubt you want to make sure that your children are healthy in their growth. One area of kids’ health that often falls off the parents’ radar is their oral and dental health. The area of your children’s oral health is just as important as any other area of their physical growth. You want to take steps to prevent the development of dental cavities and gum disease.

Most dental problems in kids result from poor food choices. Healthy food choices can promote healthy gums and teeth. Below is a list of foods that are the best in promoting good oral health and a list of foods that should be avoided.

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Food Recommendations For Optimal Oral and Dental Health

1. Cheese

cheeseCheese is rich in protein and calcium, which are essential nutrients for building strong and healthy tooth enamel. Strong enamel protects teeth from damage when children chew on hard foods. In addition, cheese requires chewing, and chewing triggers the production of saliva, contributing to dental health.

Saliva helps the oral cavity maintain the proper pH level as well as rinses teeth and gums of food debris. Many dentists recommend chewing a piece of cheese after a meal to stimulate saliva production. It is particularly beneficial to do this after dinner before your child brushes his teeth and gets ready for bed.

2. Yogurt

yogurtYogurt also provides calcium and proteins for building strong tooth enamel. In addition, the good bacteria in yogurt can fight against bad bacteria and discourage an infestation. Bad bacteria lead to problems like bad breath, cavities, and gum infection. A cup of yogurt every other day can improve your children’s oral health. Avoid yogurt with added sugars and stay with plain yogurt for the best benefits.


3. Leafy Greens

broccoliLeafy vegetables are known to benefit your health in general, but they are particularly beneficial to your teeth. Leafy greens are low in calories and are rich in a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals. The best options include kale, spinach, and broccoli because their nutritional profile is exceptionally rich.

For instance, spinach is loaded with calcium and various minerals that are essential for the development of healthy teeth. However, most children do not like to eat vegetables. Therefore, you need to think of innovative ways to add more leafy greens to their diet. Some ideas include creative veggie salads served with pizza or incorporating veggies into smoothies.

4. Apples

applesDentists and health professionals discourage the addition of sugar for good oral health, but this does not include natural sugars from fruits. Apples are sweet, but they also have properties that cleanse the mouth and keep it fresh. This is due to their high fiber and water content that cleanses away food particles and bacteria, leaving the mouth and teeth clean and fresh.

When you bite into an apple, the fibrous apple flesh stimulates your gums and increases blood circulation to the area. Putting an apple in your children’s school lunches or offering one after a meal is a great way to keep their teeth clean and healthy. Also, make sure your children brush their teeth two times a day.

5. Carrots

vegetablesRaw carrots are crunchy and give your teeth, gums, and jaw a good workout. The chewing motion stimulates saliva production, and the extra saliva flushes food particles and bacteria down your digestive system. Carrots are a great source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water. You can serve carrots to your children in several ways, including slicing or dicing them, mixing them into a veggie salad, or giving them a whole carrot to chew on.


6. Celery

celery juiceCelery is not as popular as the other vegetables on the list because it has a bland taste and is very fibrous and watery. However, celery effectively cleans your teeth of food residue and bacteria. As you chew on a celery stick, the rough texture can scrub your teeth and mouth clean of foreign particles.




7. Almonds

almondAlmonds are high in calcium and proteins as well as low in sugar. Nibbling on a quarter cup of almonds can promote good dental health for your children. If your children do not like the taste of almonds, consider mixing them into stir-fried dishes or salads. For those who like almonds, pack some into their lunch boxes.

In addition to encouraging your children to eat the foods listed above for good oral health, you also need to keep them away from foods that will harm their teeth. These include most junk foods with ingredients bad for your health and teeth. These should be limited or avoided in a healthy diet. Some of the biggest offenders are listed below.


Worst Foods For Dental Health

1. Hard candy

hard candyMost children are drawn to candy. A piece of candy might look small and harmless, but it is full of sugar that can damage their teeth. Chewing on hard candy worsens the problem because there is a chance of chipping or cracking a tooth while chewing it. If your children want something sweet to chew, offer them sugar-free gum and discourage them from chewing or eating hard candy.


2. Foods that are High in Acid

orangesSome foods have a high level of acid. The acid can eat away tooth enamel, making teeth more vulnerable to developing cavities. Oranges, tangerines, lemons, and pineapples are highly acidic foods that you need to be careful of when eating them. After you eat an orange, drink water immediately to rinse some of the acids from your teeth. Or, instead of eating citrus fruits, choose to eat watermelons or apples.


3. Crunchy Foods

crispsKids love to eat potato chips, corn chips, and crunchy snacks. They may taste good, but they are high in starch that remains on their teeth. Starch turns into sugar, and it can contribute to tooth decay. If your children want to eat something crunchy, they should brush their teeth afterward.




4. Juices, Sodas, and Sports Drinks

sodasCarbonated drinks are high in sugar and acidity. They weaken your tooth enamel and cause other problems. The sugar from the beverage forms a layer on your teeth, increasing the acid’s ability to erode teeth. These beverages should be avoided if possible.

If you want to help your children develop strong teeth and good oral hygiene, provide foods that are healthy for teeth. In addition, help them get into the routine of brushing and flossing regularly. Last but not least, remove foods that are bad for their teeth. If you use this approach and take your children to the dentist for regular check-ups, you will help your children develop and maintain good oral health.