Keeping Little Smiles Healthy

By Hannah Daniel

Orange juice, apple slices with peanut butter and a blueberry muffin. This sounds like a perfectly healthy breakfast that most children would enjoy. However, while the rest of the body may benefit from this meal, the teeth might not fare so well. The holidays are almost upon us, and Grandmas across America are poised with homemade desserts and stockings full of candy.

Despite the holidays, even this healthy breakfast can actually be potentially hazardous for your young one’s teeth. Orange juice contains plenty of vitamin C, but it’s also highly acidic and could damage the tooth enamel. Peanut butter has protein, but the sugars and the stickiness cause it to stay in the teeth longer and attract bacteria for decay. A blueberry muffin contains fruit, grains and other healthy ingredients, but also sugars and carbohydrates that convert to acid against the teeth.

So how can you make sure your child is eating nutritious meals while still keeping their teeth strong and healthy? Here are a few tips for maintaining a smile that will last.

Balance

You don’t have to take away food that’s healthy for the body and not the teeth. If you simply add foods that are specifically healthy for the teeth, your child will get the additional nutrition without sacrificing otherwise perfectly healthy food. These foods especially promote oral health:

  • Dairy – Milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy products provide calcium that hardens the bones – including the teeth! If your child’s teeth are strong, they will be less susceptible to decay.
  • Garlic – While most children won’t specifically ask for garlic, you can easily slip some minced garlic into most sautéed foods, spaghetti, pizza or even vegetables. Garlic does a great job killing bacteria in the mouth, making it less of a breeding ground for the kind that causes cavities.
  • Crunchy fruits and vegetables – In addition to dietary benefits, crunchy fruits and veggies also scrub the teeth and gums while you’re chewing.

Don’t avoid healthy food simply because it might harm the teeth. Add tooth-healthy foods to your regimen to help balance it out.

Maintenance

To counteract the effects of those overall healthy foods that could potentially damage the teeth, teach your children to brush their teeth right after eating. Those foods can only do damage if remnants are left sitting on the teeth for several hours. Brushing shortly afterward eliminates this possibility and still lets your children enjoy the nutrients from those foods. Teaching your child the consequences of not brushing your teeth can go a long way in encouraging them to brush regularly!

Hannah Daniel manages a blog backed by 1Dental.com, which offers an affordable dental insurance alternative. She enjoys helping families save money and keeping them up to date on dental news through the dental blog.