Dental Health Nutrition

Dr. Kelly Jobe | Pediatric Dentist | St. Louis, MO

Dental health nutrition for kids

So you’ve taught your kid…

Brushing: Check!

Flossing: Check!

But you also want to make sure they’re getting great nutrition for their dental health. So, they just need to avoid sugary foods, right? Well yes, but there is definitely more to proper dental health nutrition for kids.

Eating healthy is essential to prevent tooth decay and other dental problems down the road. This is done by making sure your child is eating from all food groups, and not just avoiding sugar. Grazing can also increase cavity risk, so encourage eating only at predetermined times. 

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Why sugar and a kid's teeth aren’t friends

The reason that sugar is bad for teeth is because over time, sugar can combine with bacteria in the mouth to form a sticky substance called plaque. This plaque can build up over time, creating acids that tear through the enamel on our teeth, causing cavities. 

If cavities are left untreated, they can lead to more serious problems down the road like pain, sensitivity and even infections. Then your child’s teeth might require fillings, crowns, pulp therapy (root canals) or extractions. What’s worse, cavities can then spread to other teeth!

Needless to say, simple habits like brushing, flushing and proper nutrition can prevent a lot of headaches in the future. 

If your child eats sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods, we recommend brushing immediately after to prevent plaque buildup. And if you do serve them sugary treats, include them with meals, not as standalone snacks. 

What should kids eat for healthy teeth?

There are many low-sugar, low-carb foods your child can eat for healthy teeth, including:

  • High-water fruits and vegetables – The water in fruits & veggies like pears, melons, celery and cucumbers help wash away food particles from the teeth
  • Cheese – Cheese triggers saliva which also helps wash away food particles from the teeth
  • Calcium-rich foods – The calcium in foods like broccoli, milk and yogurt help build strong teeth
  • High-fiber foods – The crunch of high-fiber foods like apples, celery and carrots can scrub away plaque from teeth
  • Water with fluoride – Drinking water usually has fluoride in it, which is proven to prevent tooth decay
  • High vitamin D foods – The vitamin D in foods like eggs and mushrooms help the body absorb calcium, which strengthens teeth
  • Protein – Foods high in protein like meat, eggs, dairy and beans help build strong enamel

What foods are bad for kids' teeth?

These foods should be avoided for kids’ teeth:

  • Sticky, chewy foods – Like raisins, jelly beans, honey and syrup
  • Sugary foods – Like cookies, cake and candy
  • Sugary drinks – Like soda, juices and milk
  • Citrus fruits – The acid in citrus fruits like grapefruit and lemon can wear down enamel
  • Processed carbohydrates – The carbohydrates in processed starches like chips, bread and pasta turn into sugar, which causes cavities

Other tips for dental health nutrition

  • Limit snacking – The more your child snacks, the more fuel they’re giving to cavity-causing plaque bacteria
  • Have your child brush immediately after eating sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods – This also prevents plaque from building up
  • If serving sugary treats, serve them with meals – Not as standalone snacks
  • Buy sugar-free or unsweetened food
  • Give your baby a bottle of water when putting them to bed – The sugars in milk, formula or juice will cause plaque buildup while they are sleeping
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste – Fluoride is proven to rebuild teeth and prevent tooth decay
  • Visit the dentist regularly – The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children get a checkup every 6 months
  • Encourage proper chewing – Chewing their food longer releases more saliva, which breaks down and washes away food particles from the teeth, in addition to providing minerals that strengthen teeth

Questions for Dr. Jobe or the Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry team?

Dr. Kelly Jobe and the team at Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry are committed to providing the best pediatric dental care in the greater St. Louis, MO area! Please contact us with any questions regarding your kid’s dental health, we are here to help!

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