Finding the right toothbrush and toothpaste for your child is great for maintaining your little one’s oral health, but did you know that the foods you feed your child make a difference, too?

Walking through the grocery store, you’ll see aisles upon aisles of colorful fruits and vegetables. Each of these foods contains tons of vitamins and minerals crucial for healthy teeth, like vitamins A, B, C, D and K.

So how can you make sure your child is eating the right fruits and veggies? Here at the Children’s Dental Center, we’ve come up with this guide to the best food for your child’s teeth.

Best Foods for a Kid’s Teeth

Oranges, Kiwis, Limes and Strawberries – Plenty of fruits (especially citrus fruits) contain Vitamin C. Vitamin C is most effective in treating infections and fighting bacteria. Between just eating and breathing, our mouths gather loads of bacteria that can eventually lead to gingivitis and tooth decay, but eating foods that contain Vitamin C help kill those bacteria and promote healthy collagen.

Milk, Yogurt and Cheese – These foods contain high levels of calcium, Vitamin D and phosphates are great for strong, growing teeth. Vitamin D plays an extremely important role in the growth and development of bones and teeth, and its top job is to regulate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus while keeping your child’s immune system healthy.

Seeds and Nuts – Nuts and seeds consist of natural fats and oils that are valuable in defending good oral health. The natural fats from the nuts and seeds can coat your teeth and protect the enamel against bacteria and tooth decay. Nuts also contain substantial amounts of fiber, folic acid, and calcium and are beneficial for teeth and gums.

Raw Carrots, Celery, Cauliflower, Green Beans, and Snap Peas – These veggies are often referred to as “chewing foods” because they act as a natural cleaner for your child’s teeth. They can purify and scrape away the plaque that builds up between meals and brushing.

Thankfully, you can find many of these fruits and vegetables at your local grocery store at a relatively affordable price, but the list doesn’t end there! We highly recommend researching the best foods for your child’s specific needs and then personalizing a meal plan that fits your lifestyle to maintain great oral hygiene.

A healthy diet is a balanced diet that naturally supplies all the nutrients your child needs to grow, and a balanced diet is one that includes fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and beans and milk.

How Your Child’s Diet Affects Their Dental Health

Your child must have a balanced diet for their teeth to develop properly. They also need a balanced diet for healthy gum tissue around the teeth. Equally important, a diet high in certain kinds of carbohydrates – like sugar and starches – may place your child at extra risk for tooth decay.

Spinach dumplings

Make Your Child’s Diet Safe for Their Teeth

First, be sure your child eats a balanced diet. Then, check how often they eat foods with sugar or starch in them. Foods with starch include bread, crackers, pasta, and snacks like pretzels and potato chips.

When checking for sugar, look beyond the sugar bowl and candy dish. A variety of foods contain one or more types of sugar, and all types of sugars can create dental decay. Fruits, a few vegetables, and most milk products have at least one type of sugar. Sugar shows up in many processed foods – even some that don’t taste sweet. For example, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich not only has sugar in the jelly but may have sugar added to the peanut butter. Sugar is also added to such condiments as ketchup and salad dressings.

Balancing Foods With Sugar and Starch

Definitely not many of these foods provide nutrients your child needs. You simply need to be wise about when to serve them. Foods with sugar or starch are safer for your child’s teeth if they’re eaten with a meal, not as a snack. Sticky foods like dried fruit or toffee, aren’t washed away from the teeth easily by saliva, water or milk, so they have more cavity-causing potential than foods cleared from the teeth faster.

Getting Enough Fluoride

A balanced diet doesn’t guarantee the proper amount of fluoride for the development and maintenance of your child’s teeth. If you don’t live in a fluoridated community or have an ideal amount of naturally occurring fluoride in your well water, your child may need a prescription strength, topical fluoride gel or paste during the years of tooth development. Our team at the Children’s Dental Center can help assess how much supplemental fluoride your child needs, based on the amount of fluoride in your drinking water and other potential sources of fluoride.

Children's Dental Center

Prevention Comes Before Solid Foods

Don’t nurse a young child to sleep or put them to bed with a bottle of milk, formula or juice. While your child sleeps, any unswallowed liquid in the mouth feeds bacteria that produce acids and attack their teeth. Protect your child from severe tooth decay by putting them to bed with nothing more than a pacifier or bottle of water.

Final Advice

Here are the best tips for your child’s diet and dental health:

  • Shop smart: don’t routinely stock your pantry with sugary or starchy snacks.
  • Buy fun foods just for special times. Limit the number of snack times and choose nutritious snacks.
  • Provide a balanced diet and save foods with sugar or starch for mealtimes.
  • Don’t put your young child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula or juice.

If you’re in the Memphis area and are looking for a fun and caring pediatric dental practice to help your child achieve better oral health overall, look no further than the Children’s Dental Center. Our friendly team will answer any questions you may have about how to help your child take better care of their teeth and gums.

Stop by one of our offices in Collierville, Arlington, or Midtown or call us today. We can’t wait to meet you and your child.