Children need food to grow and nourish themselves. Keeping food groups away from the hands of kids gives them a skewered nutrition and causes imbalance in their metabolism. Also, avoidance only causes them to gain access to the foods through other means. The solution therefore is to give everything, but in intelligent clever ways.
Too much of sugars – cookies, candies, milk and cake – can cause tooth decay. So also much of savoury foods such as wafers and pretzels that can be equally damaging. It isn’t what kinds of foods that are consumed but how they are consumed where the culprits that cause damage to teeth actually lie.
So, how to choose the right food for healthy teeth and gums ?
- Fruits and vegetable must be kept in plenty in the home and offered as healthy snacks, whenever your child has a craving for sweets. Choose those that have high water volume such as watermelons, celery and cucumbers. Bananas and raisins although good for health have high sugar and can also stick onto teeth. Ensure your child brushes their teeth after every meal.
- Avoid sticky, chewy food wherever possible. Dried figs, raisins, granola bars, caramel, honey and sugar syrup stick to teeth making it difficult to be washed away by saliva. Its always good to ensure brushing happens after the intake of any such foods.
- Followup most meals with a piece of cheese or serve as a snack. As unhealthy as it may be to have too much of it, cheese triggers saliva flow which helps wash food particles away from the teeth.
- Serve sugary foods with meals and not as in-between snacks. Giving sugars as desserts instead of a mid-morning or tea-time snack, ensures the saliva formation during meals washes away any remnant sugar from the teeth. Snack sugars remain in the mouth for longer.
- Ensure your child snacks as little as possible. It doesn’t depend on the quantity of the snack but how often your child snacks between meals. Frequent snacking, without keeping suitable intervals provides a constant fuel to bacteria and which in turn leads to plaque development and tooth decay. Snacks must be limited to just once or twice a day.
- Avoid putting your baby to bed with a formula bottle, juice or soda. The foods linger longer in your baby’s mouth and acids affect the gum and teeth. Fill water in the bottle if it had become habitual for your child.
- Offer your child plain water or juice whenever possible. Sodas or even milk containing sugar are generally bad and your child can do well without the added sugar.
- Include calcium sources wherever possible in your child’s food. Milk, broccoli, rage and yoghurt are healthy and natural sources of calcium.
- Use a good quality brush and paste for your child’s brushing. A daily routine of day and night brushing can keep away a lot of plaque, tooth pain and general heartache of caries for a long time.
- After any medication or cough syrup, make sure you make your child brush their teeth. Medicines contain sugar and this remains in the mouth. The resultant acids can eat away the enamel.
- Lastly, visit your paediatric dentist without fail. They often pick out changes in tooth coloration, structural changes and more on routine examination preventing any problems to spiral out of control. Your child must visit the dentist by age one and thereafter every 6 months or so. As is often said, prevention is better than cure especially for teeth that are very important to a growing child.