As a parent, chances are you’re already locked into a good oral health routine for your child. Things like brushing twice a day, flossing regularly and avoiding too many high-sugar foods are fairly well-known elements here.
At Southridge Pediatric Dentistry, our dentists are here to help you promote and enhance these basic habits, but also to show you a few advanced areas where you can really put your child on the right track to a lifetime of oral health. Much of this comes back to avoidance – particularly for younger children, avoiding certain foods or habits can be enormously beneficial as this becomes the standard routine once they get older. Let’s look at a few practical avoidance areas to begin teaching them now.
Let’s be clear up front: Fruit is generally a fantastic food group for children and really all humans, with tons of excellent nutrients for the body when served in traditional forms. When we talk about fruit issues relative to oral health, we’re really talking about two specific forms of fruit packaging:
- Dried fruit: Dried fruit does have many of the same nutrients as standard fruit, but without much of the water or fiber that come in natural fruit formats. On top of this, dried fruit is much stickier than other forms, meaning it often remains on teeth and gums and attracts bacteria long after the meal or snack has ended. This, in turn, can cause tooth decay and cavity issues.
- Jam-preserved fruit: Another fruit format is pieces packed in jam or syrup, which unfortunately are loaded up with tons of additional sugar. Also, like dried fruit, these products tend to lack the tooth-cleaning fiber that makes normal fruit so beneficial. You’re better off looking to traditional fruit formats instead.
Most parents are generally good at limiting sweet foods for their children, but we can sometimes forget about sweet drinks as well. Many popular sodas, juices, sport drinks and others have huge amounts of extra sugar in them, which can damage tooth enamel and risk decay and cavities. Instead, we recommend water or flavored water add-ons that are healthy for teeth.
Whatever drinks you do serve your child, try to avoid accompanying them with ice. Children may enjoy chewing on it, but it can crack or chip their teeth. Plus, over time, chewing ice regularly wears down tooth enamel and makes cavities more likely.
Starches and Bread
We know you likely won’t be able to completely eliminate things like bread from your child’s diet, but finding ways to limit starches in general is beneficial. Starches are broken down into sugar by the mouth’s saliva glands, and they may become sticky and stay in the gums or the cracks of teeth, opening up the risk of decay. When you do serve starchy foods, have your child rinse their mouth our or brush their teeth afterward.
For more on understated avoidance areas for your child’s oral health, or to learn about any of our pediatric dental services, speak to the staff at Southridge Pediatric Dentistry today.