As a pediatric dentist in Rockville, MD, our top priority is to help children understand the importance of a healthy smile. We are passionate about focusing on prevention, minimally invasive treatment options, and providing gentle and age-appropriate dental care in a safe and comforting environment. We all know that most kids love the sweet stuff as well as starchy snacks, and if we leave it up to them, they will happily eat those types of things 24/7.
While having some treats from time to time is fine, moderation and balance are essential to healthy teeth and optimal overall health. The good news is that many dental problems are preventable with the right information at the right time. So, having healthy routines (including regular dental visits) is very important to stay on track and prevent being surprised by big issues like 12 cavities by the time the little ones are gearing up for kindergarten.
The following tips will help you give your child a beautiful, healthy smile:
Vegetables contain nutrients and antioxidants essential for a growing child's body and teeth. Raw fruits and vegetables naturally scrub and clean teeth.
Crispy, fibrous fruits and raw vegetables, like apples, carrots, and celery, help clean plaque from teeth. These fruits and veggies stimulate the gums and help to generate mouth-cleansing saliva that freshens breath and protects against cavities.
Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt contain calcium, a mineral our bodies need for healthy bones and teeth. Many cheeses (like cheddar, for example) contain no sugar whatsoever, as all the lactose gets broken down in the aging process, so it makes for a perfect tooth-healthy snack.
Make sure your child gets plenty of calcium in their diet. Non-dairy items also rich in calcium include dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, and calcium fortified milk substitutes.
Snacking too often can contribute to cavities and other health problems. Bacteria that live in our mouth break down sugars and starches while we eat and drink and produce acid, lowering the pH levels inside the mouth. The acid attacks and weakens our tooth enamel, causing it to soften and making it more easily penetrable by cavity-causing bacteria, and so the tooth decay process begins.
The more often this cycle of carbohydrate breakdown into acid occurs on a daily basis, and the more time the pH inside the mouth is in the acidic range (rather than neutral), the more the balance shifts towards decay formation and progression, hence cavities form.
Snacking should always be kept to a minimum, and our kids should brush their teeth as soon as possible. Every kid wants snacks, and eating a treat on special occasions is okay, but this should always be in moderation, and the recommendation is to have no more than 1 snack session between each regular meal.
Soft drinks, sports drinks, and juice consumption are leading causes of tooth decay. Besides weakening tooth enamel, the sugar and acids encourage the growth of bacteria on the teeth that contribute to cavities. Beyond that, drinking large amounts of soda and sugar-filled juices can lead to childhood obesity. Replacing soda and juice with water is your best bet for optimal health, and it will allow for a better appetite at mealtime, when healthier foods are typically served.
What kid doesn't crave treats? There really is no way around it! So if your child is old enough to chew gum, offer them a sugarless option. Without the sugar, the bacteria in your child's mouth will not produce enamel-eroding acid.
Sugar-free chewing gum is beneficial because more saliva is produced. Saliva has a protective and neutralizing effect in the mouth. Most sugar-free gums contain xylitol,which is a naturally derived sweetener that cannot be converted to acid and may even have some inhibitory qualities against harmful oral bacteria, so the combination of xylitol and additional saliva during gum chewing will help reduce plaque while neutralizing acids and preventing the growth of oral bacteria.
We also give our blessing to xylitol containing treats, like lollipops and mints made by companies such as Dr. John’s. We actually hand out these types of lollipops at our office to any child whose parent is on board with this.
At Shady Grove Pediatric Dentistry, your board certified pediatric dentist, Dr. Bana Ball, and her team provide the highest quality care for infants, toddlers, and children..
Call us today to schedule an appointment at our pediatric dental practice and experience the difference a dedicated and caring team can make!
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