Most of what you hear when it comes to cavity prevention for kids is focused on oral hygiene habits and regular checkups with a children’s dentist in Irving. While there’s no question that these things are important, there’s another piece of the puzzle that’s also crucial: diet and nutrition. Since March is National Nutrition Month, it’s a great time to learn about how your child’s diet impacts their teeth and how you can make small changes that will make a big difference!
How Important Is Your Child’s Diet To Their Oral Health?
Simply put, diet and nutrition are incredibly important for oral health (for both kids and adults). However, in this day and age, it’s harder than ever to make good choices, especially since there’s so much conflicting information out there.
But, one thing is certain: Our modern diet includes far too much sugar, which often hides in surprising places like breakfast cereal and yogurt.
In addition to contributing to health problems such as childhood obesity and diabetes, this extra sugar has a huge impact on the teeth as well.
Sugar consumption causes acid to be produced in the mouth. With every bite or sip, this acid damages the enamel (the hard, protective outer layer of the teeth). If sugar is consumed in large quantities, or too often (or both), the risk of cavities is very high.
How Can You Make Better Choices For Your Kids?
Part of enjoying childhood is having something sweet every now and then, so you don’t have to deny your child completely. But, by making healthy choices most of the time, you can completely prevent them from getting cavities:
- Beware of hidden sugar – Focus on whole foods as much as possible, and, when you’re eating something with a label on it, be sure to check the sugar content. Also, limit sugary things that seem healthy such as juice or dried fruit, and only give your child candy or soda as an occasional treat (and preferably with or right after meals).
- Timing matters – It’s not only the amount of sugar that matters but also how frequently your child has it, so try to discourage sipping or snacking throughout the day.
- Go for low-sugar snacks – There are many low-sugar snacks your child will love, including popcorn, cheese, peanut butter and celery, plain (sugar-free) yogurt with fresh or frozen berries, deviled eggs, spinach dip with veggies, nuts, and “roll-ups” made from lunch meat and cheese.
How Else Can You Keep Your Child’s Smile Healthy?
As mentioned, good nutrition is very important, but there are other things you should also do to maintain your child’s oral health:
- Schedule regular checkups – With 6-month checkups with a dentist for kids in Irving, any cavities can be found and treated when they’re small.
- Ask about sealants – Sealants prevent cavity-causing bacteria from collecting in the microscopic pits and grooves in the back teeth where even a toothbrush can’t reach. These thin, durable coatings have been found to prevent 80% of childhood cavities.
- Establish good oral hygiene – It can be a battle to get kids to brush and floss, so strive for better, not perfect. And don’t hesitate to ask a dentist for recommendations on the right techniques and best products to use.
With these tips and a healthy diet for your child, you’ll minimize the amount of dental work they need and give their smile a great start in life!
About the Author
Dr. Russell Choy is a board-certified pediatric dentist in Irving and a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Dentistry. He always focuses on prevention and knows that the best approach to children’s oral health includes regular checkups, good oral hygiene, and healthy nutrition. If you have any questions about your child’s diet or their dental health, he can be contacted via his website.