We know that you, as a parent, want to help your child to achieve a bright and healthy smile. One of the ways you can help them get that perfect smile is by choosing healthy options for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Healthy and nutritious meals play an important role not only in your child’s general health but also their energy and focus levels. We understand that sometimes it can be easy to go for prepackaged foods and snacks especially during stressful or busy times as they take little time and effort to prepare, but not all of those choices are ideal for healthy teeth and gums.
Foods high in sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats, and starches can contribute to the production of plaque and acid within the mouth that attack tooth enamel and over time can cause cavities and other dental health concerns. As a general rule, it is always best to opt for the whole foods route with fresh fruits, raw vegetables, whole grains, and limited processed food products. To help out, we’ve put together our best recommendations for healthy food options.
Dairy products such as milk and cheeses are excellent sources of calcium which help to build strong and healthy teeth. Cheese is also high in phosphorus which works to keep your child’s enamel strong and works to remove plaque from the surface of their teeth. Cutting cheese into bite-sized cubes or squares or buying string cheese is a fun way to make cheese an enjoyable snack and is also a good substitute for potato chips.
Eggs are full of protein and vitamin D which can help your body absorb calcium. They are a great breakfast option, and sometimes it can be fun to have breakfast for dinner. They can be served in a variety of ways and you can even add vegetables or meats to add more flavor.
Fruits that are high in fiber such as apples and pears are considered nature’s toothbrushes and help to clean your teeth as you chew. Bananas, grapes, kiwis, and other berries are other healthy substitutes for desserts and easy to prepare. Be wary of citrus fruits as they are high in acids that can erode tooth enamel and lead to cavities and tooth sensitivity. If your kids aren’t into fruits just yet, try cutting them into fun shapes or adding a healthy yogurt dip.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds contain calcium and Vitamin D and strengthen your child’s teeth and enamel. They are also healthy sources of protein and healthy fats which play an important role in preserving gum tissue growth. However, some nuts such as almonds can put stress on your child’s teeth as they chew or bite down on them, so opt for chopped or slivered nuts when possible.
Crunchy raw vegetables such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, green peppers, broccoli, and leafy greens are some of the best snacks for a kid’s teeth. They are high in water content which helps to dilute natural sugars and high in fiber. Just like with fibrous fruits, these snacks will help to scrape away bad bacteria and food debris from your child’s teeth. If your child isn’t big on vegetables just yet, introduce them slowly and liven them up with yummy dips such as hummus or cream cheese. Invite your children to cook with you and set a good example for them by changing your own eating habits.
Allowing children to drink sugary drinks whether sports drinks, soda, or juices causes acid to erode their enamel and can lead to cavities and tooth decay. Young children under the age of 6 should drink less than 6 oz of juice each day. Children between the ages of 7 and 18 should only drink about 12 oz a day. Encourage your kids to drink the recommended daily amount of water which should be 5-10 glasses each day. Water not only rehydrates the body but stimulates saliva production which rinses away left-over food debris and acids from your teeth.
Yogurt can be a great substitute for gelatin or pudding cups. Yogurt without added sugars is a great snack option and can be used as a base to which you can add your child’s favorite fruits or nuts. Yogurt also contains probiotics which can help get rid of bad bacteria in your child’s mouth. Here is a fun tip you can try at home: if your child isn’t fond of regular yogurt, try freezing it to make popsicles for fun snacks or after-dinner treats.
We understand that even though every parent would love to feed their children healthy foods for every meal and snack, it isn’t always a realistic goal for some. Keep in mind that even if the changes are slight and given in small quantities throughout the week, you are still helping your child to build a healthier foundation for the future. If you have any questions about mouth-healthy foods or want more ideas for healthy snacks, contact Children’s Dentistry of San Diego today.