Good nutrition is an important component of good oral health. We all know that children should avoid sugary snacks, especially soda and candy that stick to the teeth. Calcium consumption may play a significant role in maintaining your child’s healthy smile. In addition to milk, there are several other foods that will add calcium to your child’s diet.
Most of us were told as children that milk helps to build strong bones. That is true—and it builds strong teeth as well. Milk is one of our primary sources of calcium, and while milk does contain lactose, a form of sugar, lactose is one of the least-damaging sugars to teeth. Experts routinely recommend that milk and water be the only drinks offered to children between meals.
However, there is an important caveat here: While milk may be good for your child’s teeth during the day, it can be detrimental at night. Letting your toddler go to sleep with a bottle of milk encourages prolonged exposure to the sugars in the milk and can actually cause decay.
But milk is not the only good source of calcium. Consider adding the following to your child’s diet:
- Yogurt contains calcium and the added benefit of probiotics, encouraging the growth of “good” bacteria in your child’s mouth and digestive tract. Check the ingredients on the yogurt you purchase, however, and make sure it does not contain large amounts of sugar.
- Cheese, too, has added benefits. Many studies have found that cheese stimulates the flow of saliva in the mouth, which washes away decay-causing food particles and lowers the level of acid in the mouth. Consider adding cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack or another cheese to your child’s meals or as a snack.
- Dark, leafy greens such as kale, collard greens and spinach are also good sources of calcium. While children may not get excited about eating green vegetables, include them in your meals when your children are young, and they are more likely to become fans.
When you encourage healthy eating early on, your child will develop good habits that last a lifetime. For more tips on encouraging a healthy diet, call us for an appointment with Dr. Jared or ask us at your child’s next checkup at KiDDS Dental. We are always happy to discuss foods that can help keep your child’s teeth healthy for years to come.