How Your Child’s Nutrition Affects Their Oral Health
Encouraging good oral health practices in your children begins with good oral hygiene practices—brushing at least twice a day and daily flossing. But what you allow your children to eat also plays an important role in good oral health. By selecting foods that provide the proper nutrients you can help strengthen your children’s teeth with every bite.
Selecting the Right Foods
Teeth need a variety of minerals and vitamins to help sustain oral health. While you can supplement these requirements by taking daily vitamins, it is important to eat foods that are rich in these vitamins and minerals. See the table provided below for a list of the important nutrients, how they support your child’s health, and which foods provide a rich source for each nutrient.
|Nutrient||Impact on Oral Health||Foods Rich with the Nutrient|
|Vitamin B3 (niacin)||B3 deficiency can lead to bad breath and canker sores||Chicken and fish|
|Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and B12||B12 and/or B2 deficiency can lead to canker sores||B2: pasta, bagels, spinach, and almonds|
B12: red meat, chicken liver, pork, fish, dairy products
|Vitamin C||Vitamin C deficiency may lead to bleeding gums and loose teeth||Sweet potatoes, raw red peppers, oranges|
|Vitamin D||Builds strong bones and teeth||Milk, egg yolks, fish, and moderate amounts of sunshine|
|Vitamin K||Strengthens bones and teeth and essential for blood clotting||Broccoli and leafy greens|
|Calcium||Strong teeth and bones||Dairy products, beans, broccoli, nuts, and oyster|
|Iron||Deficiency in iron may lead to tongue inflammation and mouth sores||Red meat, poultry, fish, fortified cereals, some vegetables and nuts|
|Phosphorus||Healthy bones & teeth, balances your body’s pH levels||Milk, grains, and lean meat|
|Zinc||Strong teeth and bones||Seafood, meat, and liver|
|Magnesium||Essential for bone health||Green vegetables, legumes, and nuts|
|Potassium||Promotes mineral density and prevents calcium loss||Fruits and vegetables|
Snacks Between Meals
It’s best to avoid snacks between meals if at all possible. Your mouth produces less saliva during snack times which allows more food and bacteria to stay lodged in your mouth. This, in turn, can lead to tooth decay and other oral hygiene problems.
If snacking between meals cannot be avoided, it is best to choose snacks which promote oral health over options which are more likely to cause cavities. Good snack options include: raw vegetables, nuts and seeds, cheese, yogurt, milk, meat, and eggs. You should avoid food made from fermentable carbohydrates such as bananas, potatoes, rice, corn and wheat flour.
Sugar-free chewing gum can be a great alternative to a snack because it promotes the production of saliva which works to flush your mouth of plaque and bacteria.
When it comes to beverages, water is the clear winner! Water is pH neutral and does an excellent job at washing food, bacteria, and plaque out of your mouth. Additionally, proper hydration is essential for the production of saliva.
Other tooth-friendly beverages include milk and green tea. Milk contains Vitamin D and Calcium which are both essential for healthy teeth. Green tea contains polyphenols, which reduce bacteria, and fluoride which strengthens teeth. Cranberry juice, if not sweetened with sugar, can also be a healthy choice. Cranberries are rich in anthocyanins which act to prevent the growth of bacteria.
You should avoid drinking fruit juices, carbonated soft drinks, and sports or energy drinks. These beverages are highly acidic, which erodes your teeth’s enamel, and often contain high levels of sugar, which promotes plaque and bacteria growth.
Click here to find out more about how common kids’ drinks affect oral hygiene.
Supplement Healthy Eating with Regular Checkups
It is important to support healthy eating habits with regular checkups and dental cleanings. Good oral hygiene starts with what we put into our mouths but doesn’t stop there. If you have additional questions about your child’s oral health or the types of food and beverages you should be providing your child, please contact our friendly staff to schedule an appointment for your child.