One of the best ways to keep your child cavity free is to maintain a proper diet. Cavities are caused by bacteria that feed off of sugar and starches to produce acid that attacks your teeth. Any foods that are high in sugar or starches are potential cavity causing culprits! Also consider the drinks that your child is drinking. Many drinks are high in sugar or have acid in them and can do a lot of harm to baby teeth, or any teeth for that matter. Below are some helpful hints on ways to monitor your child’s diet. Most importantly though, make sure you follow any special dietary instruction that your child’s physician gives you. If you have questions about the dental implications of a physician mandated diet then make sure to contact our office so Dr. Buddy or Dr. Porter can discuss the dental implications of your child’s diet.
- The best plan for what your children should drink is that they should drink milk or water with meals and water between meals. We understand that most children are not going to only drink milk or water all of the time. However, as outlined below be mindful of the harmful effects that many of the other drinks can have. Stick to milk and water as much as possible and only let your children have other types of drinks for special occasions. Also, make sure that your children do not drink anything except water at night after their teeth have been brushed.
- One drink in particular that many parents do not realize is harmful is juice. Juice (even 100% natural juice) is high in sugar and is probably the leading cause of cavities that we see in our office. Even if “watered down”, frequent consumption of juice can still cause cavities. We recommend that children only have one small 6 oz cup of juice a daily if any at all. Juice should be consumed with a meal or with a snack to help buffer the sugar intake. Juice is the most dangerous for causing cavities when a child is sipping on it throughout the day in a bottle or sippie cup. This gives the dangerous combination of too much total sugar consumption as well as a high frequency of sugar consumption. It is also very important that children are not allowed to drink juice (or any drink besides water) after they have brushed their teeth at night and are also not allowed to sleep with a bottle or sippie cup containing juice.
- Children should only receive soft drinks for special occasions, if at all. They have a lot of sugar and are acidic and cavity promoting. Even diet drinks are acidic and contain many ingredients that are not ideal for your child to consume. Soft drinks, including diet soft drinks, should not be included in a child’s diet.
- Sports drinks are not healthy! They contain a lot of sugars that can cause cavities! Beware of the “reduced sugar” versions of sports drinks. They still contain a lot of sugar and are still very cavity promoting.
- Sweet tea and Kool Aid (and drinks similar to Kool Aid) contain a lot of sugar and are not good for your children’s teeth.
- Many children with health issues are small and physicians recommend Pediasure to gain weight. Pediasure is high in calories, vitamins and sugar. Parents of a child that consumes Pediasure should be sure to maintain oral hygiene daily and try to not let their child drink Pediasure throughout the day and night.
- It is very important to develop a feeding schedule for your child. It is best for small children to have three meals a day as well as a mid-morning and afternoon snack. Constant snacking between meals should be avoided. A lot of snacking between meals increases the frequency with which harmful foods can be in contact with your children’s teeth and thus increases the likelihood that your children could develop cavities.
- Snacks that are the best for your children to eat are those high in protein such as peanut butter, chesse, yogurt, etc. Raw Fruits and vegetables are also very good snacks for children to have.
- Beware snack foods that are sticky. These foods can stick to the chewing surfaces or between the teeth and cause cavities. In particular, be careful with dried fruits such as raisins. They are very sticky and dried fruits have high sugar content. Dried fruits and raisins are alright to snack on occasionally but just make sure that your children’s teeth are brushed soon afterwards.
- Beware of reduced fat and low sugar processed snacks. These products are usually lower in sugar than the normal products but still very high in sugar themselves. These snacks are typically very starchy as well and the starches will be turned into sugar once they begin being digested by your children’s saliva.
- What kind of food your child consumes plays a significant role in the success of your child’s oral health. It’s important to steer clear from fatty, sugary, and salty foods that affect everyday health. Fast food, unfortunately, harbors all of these attributes in it’s meals.
- Fast food, an easy and cheap way to eat your meals can be extremely detrimental to your oral health mainly due to the high levels of sugar and salt. Salt and sugar increase the rate of tooth decay. The bacteria in the plaque of your child’s teeth use sugar as an energy source and puts out acid onto the teeth as waste deteriorating the enamel protecting the teeth leading to holes or cavities.
- Another health issue you or your child may experience due to high consumption levels of fast food is diabetes. The unhealthy ingredients in fast food meals are linked to excessive weight gain and obesity. The excess weight gain is one of the top factors that cause Type II Diabetes and make it difficult for people to regulate blood sugar levels. Diabetes can affect many parts of the body such as: eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart, and even your teeth and gums. People that have been diagnosed with diabetes are at a higher risk for periodontal gum disease, an infection to the gum that holds the teeth in place causing the loss of teeth.
- Sometimes fast food may be the best option for a meal during fast-paced, busy days, but it’s important to keep in mind how much you’re taking in and if you’re eating in moderation. Maintaining a healthy, thorough oral hygiene practice following the consumption of fast foods is key to combating the dental risk factors associated with fast food.
- Often times, you, as a parent, may find yourself asking the question, “What should I cook for dinner tonight?”, and other times you may not exactly have time to answer that question. Other times, perhaps, you may just want to treat the family to a nice family dinner out at a restaurant. Both of those scenarios are extremely common! But how does eating out affect your child’s oral health?
- It’s important to remember that not every meal cooked outside the home is unhealthy; however, it’s not a bad idea to know what your child is eating as well. Understanding what your child orders beforehand can better equip you with the tools you need to treat their teeth afterwards depending on the food eaten.
- Meals with high sugar and salt may require additional attention following the dinner to ensure that the plaque on your child’s teeth are controlled so not to cause any tooth decay or cavities.
- Drinks with high caffeine and sugar are also detrimental to your child’s oral health as the high amounts of sugar in the drink can cause the wearing down of enamel thus causing holes in the teeth.
- Practicing healthy brushing habits following a day out of eating is a positive way to reinforce good hygiene preserve the enamel on your child’s teeth
- Finding a healthy snack to give your child can be difficult, especially if your child is picky. One of the best, and healthiest, snacks to test out with your child are different fruits and vegetables. Along with the endless amount of health benefits offered from these foods, fruits are jam packed with natural sugars that aren’t necessarily bad for your child’s teeth!
- Natural, whole fruit are a great source of important nutrients such as: calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, iron… the list goes on and on! Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables paired with water, preferably with fluoride, create a great defense against tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
- However, steer clear from artificial fruit and fruit juice. Artificial fruits can be extremely unhealthy because it’s made up of a series of chemicals, some inedible such as petroleum) engineered to create “taste” or flavoring. Fruit juice can be unhealthy for your child due to the high levels of sugar and acidity. Fruit juice can contain artificial sweeteners that can increase the rate of tooth decay. Citrus fruit juices also contain high levels of acid that can affect the enamel protecting the teeth.
- Be sure to research what foods affect your child’s enamel prior to consumption. It’s better to brush your teeth before eating acidic foods rather than afterwards. Brushing your teeth directly after eating a highly acidic food can cause the brush bristles to scrub away the enamel that your teeth need for protection.
Hard Food (Weak Teeth)
- Is your child suffering from weak teeth? Steering clear from certain foods can be the best option for your child at this point. Knowing the texture and roughness of the food is the best way to avoid annoying and painful circumstances acquired from eating hard and crunchy food.
- Avoid hard, crunchy snacks such as apples, hard candy, and ice. Crunching down on snacks such as these can cause a crack in the tooth or contribute to the degeneration of the tooth enamel. The roughness and crunch can also cause pain and discomfort for your child.
- Avoid chewy candy and tacky-textured foods. Foods such as taffy, chewing gum, and caramels can stick to hard to brush places leading to a buildup of plaque and tartar.
- Excessive buildup will be harder to treat and expedites the tooth decay process significantly.
- Unfortunately, once your child’s tooth enamel is gone, it cannot be regenerated. However, by taking preventative measures, you can prevent further deterioration and protect the enamel your child has. Properly and regularly brushing your child’s teeth and teaching him/her a healthy and consistent brushing habit can do wonders for your child’s oral health. Also, be sure to ask your dentist about the benefits of mineral fluoride. Many products, such as toothpaste, contain fluoride and can help your child’s teeth sensitivity.