The Importance of Good Nutrition
More so than for adults, good nutrition is very important for children. A good diet provides a child with the many different nutrients he or she needs to grow and thrive. These nutrients are necessary for a developing brain and strong body.
According to the food pyramid, children need vegetables, fruits, meat, grains, beans, and dairy products to grow properly. These different food groups can be incorporated into a healthy diet that even picky kids will eat.
For ideas, check out this article from the Mayo Clinic with suggestion on how to tempt the pickiest of child eaters: Children's Nutrition: 10 Tips for Picky Eaters.
How Does My Child’s Diet Affect His or Her Teeth?
Almost every snack contains some sugar. While it is obvious that candy and desserts contain sugar, many parents don't consider that so called "healthy" foods such as dried fruit also contain a lot of sugar. Oftentimes, dried fruit is chewy and sticky and lingers on young teeth for hours after being eaten. When sugar-rich snacks are eaten, the sugar content attracts bacteria that is found normally in the mouth. The bacteria feast on food remnants left on or around the teeth. Eventually, feasting bacteria produce enamel-attacking acids.
When tooth enamel is constantly exposed to acid, it begins to erode – the result is childhood tooth decay, otherwise known as cavities.
Regular checkups and cleanings at the Dr. Blazer's office are an important line of defense against tooth decay. However, implementing good dietary habits and minimizing sugary food and drink intake as part of the “home care routine” are equally important.
How Can a Child's Diet be Improved?
Ensure that children are not continuously snacking – even in a healthy manner. Lots of snacking means that sugars are constantly attaching themselves to teeth, and tooth enamel is constantly under attack. It is also impractical to try to clean the teeth after every snack, if “every snack” means every ten minutes!
Opt for "faster" snacks. Mints and hard candies remain in the mouth for a long period of time - meaning that sugar is coating the teeth for longer. If candy is necessary, opt for a sugar-free variety or a variety that can be eaten expediently.
What About Starch-Rich Foods?
It is important for a child to have a balanced diet, so some carbohydrates and starches are necessary. Quite frankly, for some picky eaters, that's all they will eat for a while. Starch-rich foods generally include pretzels, chips, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Since starches and carbohydrates break down to form sugar, it is best that they are eaten as part of a meal (when saliva production is higher), than as a standalone snack. Provide plenty of water at mealtimes (rather than soda) to help children rinse sugary food particles off the teeth.
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s general or oral health, please contact our office.