We all know that we should eat right, but we don’t always know what we should avoid, or, if we’re going to eat things that may not be great for us, how much of it to eat. The best time to learn all of that is as a child and here are some recommendations for a child’s diet that will start them out on the right road to good nutrition and good oral health. You can do these things for your children and help them learn what they should be eating:
- 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.
- Avoid sticky, chewy foods: Raisins, dried figs, granola bars, oatmeal or peanut butter cookies, jelly beans, caramel, honey, molasses, and syrup stick to teeth making it difficult for saliva to wash the sugar away. If your child consumes these types of products, have them brush their teeth immediately after eating.
- Serve sugary treats with meals, not as snacks. If you plan to give your child any sweets, give them as desserts immediately following the meal. There’s usually an increased amount of saliva in the mouth around mealtime, making it easier to wash food away from teeth. The mealtime beverage also helps to wash away food particles on teeth.
- Get your children in the habit of eating as few snacks as possible. The frequency of snacking is far more important than the quantity consumed. Time between meals allows saliva to wash away food particles that bacteria would otherwise feast on. Frequent snacking, without brushing immediately afterwards, provides constant fuel to feed bacteria, which leads to plaque development and tooth decay. Try to limit snacks as much as possible and to no more than one or two a day. Brush teeth immediately after consuming the snack if possible.
- Avoid sugary foods that linger on the teeth. Lollipops, hard candies, cough drops, and mints all contribute to tooth decay because they continuously coat the teeth with sugar.
If they learn these habits as children, then they’re likely to follow them as they grow older. Result: healthy children with good oral health.