You’ve got no problem getting your kids to eat at Dairy Kastle – what child says no to soft serve and candy? Unfortunately, the sweets that kids love are terrible for their dental health. When sugar mixes with oral bacteria, it creates acid that can dissolve tooth enamel.
On the other hand, many foods actually promote good dental health. The trick is getting your child to see healthy food as delicious and preferable to junk food. Although it may be difficult, it is achievable. Read on to learn about five foods that improve your child’s dental health and taste good too.
Foods That Promote Good Dental Health
In general, foods that are good for your health are good for your teeth. There are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, although green tea reduces inflammation and plaque, it also contains tannins, which can stain your teeth. Some acidic foods can also harm your child’s teeth.
Your child’s dental health can affect their confidence and impact future opportunities. Unhealthy teeth also raise their risk for heart issues, pneumonia, and clogged arteries. Eating healthier foods is hard at first, but as your taste buds adjust, you’ll begin to crave them. Here are five foods that promote good dental health in kids.
- Leafy Greens
This category of food includes kale, spinach, collard greens, and swiss chard, to name a few. Leafy greens are full of fiber and crunch when you eat them. Chewing these crunchy vegetables actually rubs plaque off your teeth and leaves you with a fresher, healthier mouth. Leafy greens are also full of valuable vitamins and minerals.
For example, folic acid is a type of B vitamin found in many green vegetables. It reduces inflammation and protects your gums from disease. Many leafy greens also contain vitamins A, K, and potassium – all important nutrients for a healthy mouth. You can layer leafy greens on sandwiches, put them in salads, or mix them into dinner.
- Dairy Products (Not Ice Cream!)
Although they may look like bones, teeth are actually very different. They have several layers consisting of enamel, calcified tissue, and nerve endings. When your child eats foods with calcium, their teeth get stronger. Calcium fortifies tooth enamel against damage.
Many dairy products are rich in calcium. However, be careful to avoid sugar when shopping for healthy dairy products. Sweetened yogurt, ice cream, and chocolate milk aren’t the best choices, even though they have calcium. Choose hormone-free dairy with no added sugars for the healthiest option.
- Omega-3 Foods
You may have heard that omega-3 fatty acids are good for brain health. Like many other healthy foods, they’re also excellent for your child’s teeth. Omega-3s reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and protect your heart. This same anti-inflammatory power keeps your child’s gums healthy.
Omega-3s can be found in fish, nuts, and seeds. Many of these foods can be mixed into dishes or served as snacks throughout the day. Walnuts, flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds are particularly good sources. You can also give your kids fish oil supplements if you’re concerned they’re not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diet.
Like leafy greens, apples are full of fiber and require a lot of chewing. When you chew, your mouth creates saliva that helps to keep your teeth clean. Apples are naturally sweetened, so many kids like them plain or with a healthy dip like peanut butter.
Unfortunately, apple juice is not good for your kids’ teeth. It lacks chewable fiber and coats your child’s teeth with sugar and acid that can break down their tooth enamel. A little apple juice is fine, but drinking it all day is harmful to your child’s dental health.
Another way to promote healthy saliva is by drinking lots of water. People with dry mouths often suffer from more plaque and bacteria. Water keeps your mouth hydrated and washes away bits of food that could turn into plaque. It also helps maintain a healthy oral pH by diluting any acid in your mouth.
Drinking water after meals is especially beneficial for your child’s dental health. They can sip and swish water around in their mouths to remove food after a meal. If your kids don’t like plain water, try mineral or sparkling water. You can also put fruit in their water to enhance its flavor.
Best Foods for Healthy Teeth in Children
Taking your kids to Dairy Kastle once in a while won’t ruin their health. However, refined sugar is terrible for your kids’ teeth. You can protect their health by introducing healthy foods like apples, leafy greens, and water into their daily diet. Although dietary changes take a while to get used to, eating healthy is incredibly worth it.
Try introducing healthy food slowly over a couple of weeks. You can reduce sugar at the same time. Be fair and change your own diet, too. Your child may not like the way their food tastes at first, but they’ll love the way they feel. Eating healthy foods now will ensure your kids have a healthy mouth and body far into the future.
Beth is the Managing Editor at Body+Mind. She is passionate about writing about parenting, nutrition, mental health and fitness. In her spare time, Beth enjoys going for runs with her dog and trying out new recipes.