Nutrition and Your Child’s Teeth

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Nutrition and Your Child’s Teeth

child nutrition

When it comes to dental health, what your children eat and drink – and his nutrition in general – has a powerful impact on their teeth. And you may find some surprises on the list of good and bad foods.

The worst enemy of your kids’ teeth is acid, which can come directly from the food or drink, or is produced by tooth-damaging bacteria that eat sugar and convert it to acid. This acid is what creates cavities by eating away at the tooth’s protective enamel.

The best friends of your children’s teeth are foods and drinks that neutralize or rinse away acids, supply minerals and vitamins that repair tooth enamel and stimulate saliva production.

Best Foods for Kid’s Teeth

The best thing you can do as a parent is to teach your child to make healthy food choices. Here are some tooth-friendly foods to serve your children along with some other nutrition tips:

  • Fruits and vegetables: Offer fruits and vegetables as a snack instead of carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables that contain a high volume of water, such as pears, melons, celery, and cucumbers are best. Limit banana and raisin consumption as these contain concentrated sugar or if you serve these fruits, try to brush your child’s teeth immediately after they are eaten.
  • Cheese: Serve cheese with lunch or as a snack, especially cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss, and other aged cheeses which help to trigger the flow of saliva. Saliva helps to wash food particles away from teeth.
  • Nuts – Many nuts provide vitamins and minerals that help your teeth. These include peanuts (calcium and Vitamin D), almonds (high levels of calcium that helps both teeth and gums), cashews (stimulates saliva and helps clean teeth) and walnuts (fiber, folic acid, iron, thiamine, magnesium, iron, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin B6, potassium and zinc … wow!).
  • Minerals – Foods that provide vitamins A, C, and D as well as calcium and phosphorus, are especially good for the teeth. These foods can be part of an overall healthy diet, as well. These include beef, eggs, fish, potatoes, spinach, fortified cereals, tofu, leafy green vegetables, beans, whole grains, and poultry
  • Teas, Coffee and Cocoa – Green and black teas contain polyphenols that interact with the bacteria that cause plaque. Polyphenols kill or suppress bacteria, preventing them from growing or producing tooth-attacking acid. The polyphenols in coffee also have cavity-fighting properties. Studies show cocoa to have strong anti-mutans streptococci properties, although chomping sugary chocolate bars isn’t tooth-friendly.

7 Of The Worst Foods for Your Child’s Teeth

For all you moms and dads out there who want to keep your child’s teeth healthy, here’s our list of the 7 worst foods for your child’s teeth.

1 Chewy, Sugary Candy

It’s no surprise that chewy, sugary candies are at the top of the list. Sugar isn’t just bad for your teeth, but can lead to a host of other health problems down the road. While there are hundreds of different types of candy, here are a few popular ones that should be limited:

  • Skittles
  • Starburst
  • Laffy Taffy
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Twizzlers
  • Gummy Bears
  • Butterfinger
  • Warheads
  • Jolly Ranchers
  • Ring Pops
  • Airheads
  • Marshmallows

And so many more. Like we said at the beginning of this article, we aren’t saying that your children can never have any candy; that’s probably a bit unrealistic. What we are saying is that, as the parent, you can make a concerted effort to limit your child’s intake of sugary candy that can harm their teeth, gums, and cause other health problems.

Unhealthy candy must be viewed as a “special treat” as opposed to a part of their daily diet.

2 Citrus Fruits

I can hear you now, “Are you saying that oranges and grapefruits aren’t healthy? That’s crazy!”

First of all, we all know that orange juice is delicious. Second of all, you can have too much of a good thing. There’s just one reason and one reason only that oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits aren’t great for your child’s teeth:

They’re acidic fruits.

Acid can erode tooth enamel, which isn’t good for your child’s oral health and well-being.

Once again, everything in moderation is a good rule of thumb here. We’re not saying that your child can never have a citrus fruit, but it’s not something you want to go overboard with either.

3 Bread, Chips, and Pasta

Starchy foods such as bread, chips, pasta, and so on should be consumed in moderation. If not brushed away quickly, starchy foods can be converted into sugar while stuck in between teeth, potentially damaging teeth (which can lead to cavities for your child).

It’s usually a good idea to brush your teeth after eating a big meal, especially if you’ve consumed bread, chips, or pasta. Consider teaching and passing along this “healthy habit” to your little one!

4 Dried Fruits

Oh, these packaged food companies and their sneaky marketing! Often concealed as “healthy” and even “organic,” dried fruit snacks aren’t nearly as healthy as the food industry would lead you to believe.

While fresh fruits are great, they lose water as they dry and turn into something that resembles candy that’s made in the lab.

The result? A sticky, “natural candy” that has lost a lot of nutrients and will now get stuck between your child’s teeth.

Again, we’re not saying you should never give your child raisins, that would be crazy. What we’re saying is understand that dried fruit isn’t as healthy as fresh fruit. If you want to keep your child’s teeth healthy, it’s fresh fruit all the way!

5 Ice

Ice isn’t real food and since it’s just water, how can it possibly be bad for you?

It’s not the ice that is bad for you, it’s chewing on ice. When ice is fresh out of the icemaker or freezer, it is really hard (like hard as a rock). If your child bites into ice with too much force, there is a good chance that it will be their tooth and not the ice that gets the bad end of the deal.

So when it comes to drinks with ice, make sure your kids know not to chew on ice with too much force!

6 Sports Drinks

Powerade and Gatorade are healthy drinks, right? I mean after all Lebron James, Tiger Woods, and a whole lineup of athletes drink them. They must fuel performance?

Yes and no. These types of sports drinks are loaded with carbs that can give you energy, but they also contain sugar that, just like many other drinks, can lead to tooth decay and erosion of enamel.

While your child drinking the occasional sports drink with their teammates at the ballgame isn’t going to hurt, it’s not a great idea to make a habit of keeping them in the fridge for your child to consume on-demand.

Water is a much healthier (and cheaper) alternative!

7 Dark Cola

Most children don’t like coffee, but they do like dark colas. These dark, sugary drinks are one of the worst things your child can consume consistently. They can stain your child’s teeth, as well as erode tooth enamel.

Sure, having one now and then (and brushing afterward) won’t hurt much, but it’s good to get your child in the habit of drinking healthy drinks as opposed to dark, sugary colas.

Avoiding These Foods Will Help Keep Your Child’s Teeth Healthy!

By avoiding some of the worst foods for your child’s teeth, you’re setting them up for a lifetime of better eating and drinking habits, as well as healthier teeth!

It’s important to note that avoiding the foods/beverages above will not only have a positive impact on your child’s oral health, but will help keep their body healthier, as well.


We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions so get an appointment

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