Establishing good nutritional habits for your child can be especially beneficial to promote good eating patterns and food choices for the rest of his or her life. Think of your child’s mouth as the doorway to the rest of the body. Whatever gets consumed not only affects your child's growth, development, weight, and energy levels, but oral health as well. Eating a nutritious, balanced diet is vital for the development of strong, healthy teeth.
General Tips for a Healthy Diet and a Healthy Mouth
- Limit your child’s consumption of sugary foods and beverages. When plaque combines with the sugars and starches, an acid is produced that attacks enamel on the teeth, and eventually causes decay (cavities).
- Make sure your child’s diet includes a balance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein, and dairy products. The nutrients found in these foods are important to his or her growth and health.
- Look for sugar in unexpected places. Many foods that make up a balanced, healthy diet contain sugar – including fruit, some vegetables, and milk. The best time to eat these is during meal time, not as a snack. Many vitamins are a source of sneaky sugar - especially gummy vitamins. Make sure they are sugar free.
- Speaking of snacks, limit your child’s snacking to only a few per day, and make sure they’re nutritious!
- Fun foods, like candy and starchy snacks, should be reserved for special occasions, not everyday snacking.
- When he or she is old enough, let your child chew sugar-free gum that carries the ADA seal. Chewing sugar-free gum increases saliva flow, which washes away food debris and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria. Gum containing Xylitol is also helpful in preventing cavities.
- Ensure your child brushes twice a day and flosses to eliminate food debris that leads to harmful plaque and bacteria, and causes tooth decay.