Parents generally know which foods are good for their kid’s teeth, as well as which ones are not.
For example, you know to limit the amount of sugary drinks and snacks your kids consume to help keep cavities to a minimum. But did you know that there are also foods that are especially good for dental health?
The good news is that these foods, which include a number of minerals and vitamins good for teeth, can be found at any grocery store. Just look at this list:
1. Crunchy fruits like apples and pears help increase the flow of saliva, which the body uses to wash bacteria out of the mouth. In addition to being chock-full of vitamins, chewing on crispier fruits also helps remove plaque from teeth.
2. Oranges are full of vitamin C, which keeps your gums healthy. But have your child drink some water after eating any acidic fruits. Even natural acid can be hard on tooth enamel.
3. Crispy vegetables like carrots and celery also increase the flow of saliva. In addition to being healthy, they also help remove plaque and hydrate the mouth. Both could really be considered foods that clean your teeth.
4. Carrots, broccoli, sweet potato, and pumpkin are all rich in vitamin A, which is one of the building blocks of tooth enamel. Eating them raw is best, because it provides higher vitamin A amounts and helps remove plaque from teeth while eating them.
5. Milk and low-fat yogurt are good sources of calcium, which is key to healthy teeth and bones. Milk is also low in acidity, so it is a very good alternative to sugary juices or sodas.
6. Low- or non-fat cheeses are another source of calcium and phosphate, which promote healthy teeth. It also balances the acids in your mouth, produces more saliva, rebuilds tooth enamel, and helps kills the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.
7. Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds are rich in calcium and an easy-to-pack snack for school lunches. Nuts, especially cashews, are also good for teeth and good sources of protein. Be sure to choose the unsalted, no-sugar-added varieties.
8. Meats like chicken, turkey, and beef are rich in phosphorus which, combined with calcium and vitamin D, help fortify teeth and bones. Remember: baked, broiled, or grilled is the healthiest way to prepare meats.
If you’re lucky enough to have kids who are adventurous eaters, see if you can add any of these mouth-healthy foods to their diets.
9. Green tea, which comes in many flavors, has natural antioxidants that help prevent plaque from building up on teeth. Some green teas also contain fluoride which can help prevent tooth decay.
10. Spinach is full of beta-carotene which is needed for keeping tooth enamel strong.
11. Salmon, tuna, and other fatty fish are a good source of vitamin D, which is needed to help keep teeth and jaws strong.
12. Raw onions are great for counteracting the bacteria that grow in our mouths and eventually cause cavities and gum disease.
Get creative with the ways you present new and healthy meals or snacks. This can make eating more fun, which makes kids more relaxed and open to trying new things. If all else fails, try to camouflage these tooth-healthy foods in recipes that your children might enjoy.
Involve your kids in the shopping and cooking of healthy foods. They are more likely to eat something they have helped to prepare.
Do what you can to get your child excited about dental subjects. You can find some tips in the article Seven Ways to Make Dental Care Fun for Kids.
If you have a history of cavities, mention it to your child’s dentist. He or she may recommend preventive treatments to help your child avoid cavities. Learn more in the article, Benefits of Fluoride Therapy.
If your kids do eat sugary snacks, don’t let them graze on sweet stuff throughout the day. This means sugar is often in contact with their teeth for hours, giving it a chance to start eating away at tooth enamel.
Getting kids to eat healthy can be tough, especially if they are used to eating a lot of sugar and processed foods. Keeping up with proper brushing and flossing, as well as regular trips to the dentist, are key. But now you know there are a number of foods you can add to their diets to keep their teeth—and their bodies—in good shape.