The well-being of your mouth is closely tied to the condition of your teeth, gums, and tongue. To maintain oral health, you need to be careful what you eat and drink. As such, there is no better time than childhood to start practising good dental habits. As parents, you have the power to guide your children towards making the right choices for their dental well-being, something that will benefit them forever.
While it may not be possible to shield children from every food that could harm their teeth, teaching them healthy habits can set them on a path to long-term oral health. With that in mind, here are some valuable tips to help children maintain excellent oral hygiene through their dietary choices. (1)
Sugary foods and drinks in moderation
Sugar can contribute to tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and dry mouth when consumed excessively. This presents a considerable challenge for parents, as sugary treats and beverages are pervasive. Soft drinks, chocolates, and various sugary snacks are heavily marketed towards kids, knowing that parents feel pressured to buy them.
Kids are never going to completely stay away from treats. However, you can encourage moderation in their consumption. By reducing the presence of sugary foods and drinks in your home, you can set a strong foundation for your children’s oral health.
Prioritise water as the main beverage
When it comes to the type of fluids you should put in your body, nothing beats water. Especially as it is one of the top food and drink choices for kids’ oral health. It helps clean and maintain the health of teeth while being an overall excellent choice for children’s well-being. Additionally, tap water is an economical and easily accessible option for hydration. Plus, in some places, fluoride is already present in tap water, which is another huge benefit for dental health. In cases where tap water quality is a concern, affordable alternatives such as spring water can be considered.
Opt for healthier bread alternatives
White bread is high in sugar and low in nutrients, which means it has no real benefit for your child’s teeth or any other part of their body. Its starchy nature means that if it becomes wedged between teeth, the sugars within break down, potentially leading to tooth decay. Also, white bread sticks to the surfaces of the mouth, creating an environment where bacteria and other dental issues can thrive. Try multigrain or whole wheat varieties as alternatives. Drinking water while consuming bread can aid in rinsing the mouth and minimising potential harm.
Exercise caution with citrus fruits
Fruit is obviously a much better alternative than most snacks, but you should be aware that citrus fruits, in particular, can have less-positive effects on dental health. Citrus fruits have high acidity levels, which can contribute to enamel erosion, gum disease, and tooth decay. Instead of avoiding citrus fruits altogether, encourage your child to drink water simultaneously, as it helps neutralise the acidic effects.
Increase dairy intake
Dairy products are a natural source of calcium, essential for strong teeth and bones. However, the benefits of dairy extend beyond calcium. Milk, for example, helps neutralise acidity in the mouth, making it great after your child consumes something sugary. It’s important to note that some dairy products may contain sugar, so make sure the kids enjoy those ones in moderation.
Ensure regular dental check-ups for your child
Apart from making good food and beverage choices, regular dental check-ups are vital for your child’s oral health. By implementing the strategies above and visiting a dentist regularly, you can help your child develop lifelong habits for excellent oral health. Remember, instilling these habits at a young age sets the stage for a healthy smile and overall well-being. (2)
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