There are a lot of exciting changes that occur early in your kid’s life and the move to a completely solid food diet is no exception. This switch to solid foods typically comes into play once all their teeth appear, which is around 2-3 years old. At Little Heroes Dentistry, we like to let our parents know that setting a high standard for what your kid eats early on, as well as their oral care routine, helps to maintain healthy teeth later in life. It also sets your children up to being more receptive to a healthy diet as they get older. Consider the following tidbits about early eating habits and dental health for your little ones. Let’s get these out of the way first…
The Don’t Dos!
When planning what foods to give your little one as they become ready for solid foods, it is important to know some basic don’ts. According to Dental Health, you should avoid giving sugar often – regardless of the form. Sugar puts your child at risk for tooth decay, especially if it is a regular part of their diet. It is important for everyone to remember that a “sweet tooth” is not a real quality anybody is born with. Your kid will enjoy the food you make at home or buy regardless of whether it has sugar or not. If you do choose to include a sugary food, be sure to include it as part of a meal, instead of between feeding times. You should limit the number of snacks between meals as well. Allowing sufficient time between snacks and meals allows saliva to help wash away leftover food particles. If they eat too often, there is an increased risk of bacteria building up from the food particles still in their mouths. What your kid drinks also counts as food. Make sure not to serve them sugary drinks in their bottle once their teeth starting growing in. In addition, make sure to take the bottle away from them whenever they are about to fall asleep. Even though it can be comforting for your little one, nap time and nighttime are no time for a bottle. The leftover liquid can leak onto their teeth, causing damage and leading to decay.
What to Serve
Once they are old enough, according to What to Expect, the guidelines for picking out the best foods for your toddler’s teeth are simple and straightforward. Whatever is good for their overall health is good for their teeth. Aim for a balanced diet of whole grains, foods high in calcium and protein, as well as fruits and vegetables. WebMD goes a step further by emphasizing that fruits and vegetables that contain a high volume of water are the top options for your little ones. These include cucumbers, pears, melons, and celery, among others. Some fruits, like raisins and bananas, have concentrated sugar and should be limited and accompanied by brushing. What to Expect also gives some very specific examples to start with in constructing a well-rounded diet for your little one. The first thing they suggest is cheese. Cheese has high levels of calcium and the phosphates it contains work with the calcium to protect your child’s mouth. Together, they balance the pH content, making it harder for bacteria to grow. Sweet potatoes are another good food to start with. In addition to being similar to foods they likely already know, like regular potatoes, they have plenty of vitamin A to help form tooth enamel. Oranges and fruits with plenty of vitamin C should be included as well. They don’t have as much refined sugar as other fruits, so they are less likely to cause decay. The vitamin C also promotes gum health and wards off gingivitis. Cranberries act like a literal shield for your little one’s teeth. Certain compounds in them, as well as cranberry juice, make it much more difficult for bacteria to latch on. Apples are so much more than just tasty. They help clean teeth and massage gums, like tiny toothbrushes. Plus, all the chewing they require helps build up saliva to wash away lingering bacteria in your baby’s mouth. No diet, for anyone, is complete without plenty of water. While it may not be your child’s favorite, it is the healthiest drink option available. Not only is it entirely free of sugars, which not even milk and juices can claim, but it helps keep teeth clean by making sure no food stays stuck between them. Most water also has fluoride, which strengthens the enamel on your baby’s teeth
Here at Little Heroes Pediatric Dentistry, we want to remind parents that what their child eats is very important to their dental (and general) health.
With a good diet, we can help ensure that they have great dental health early on, and that these habits are something they carry with them throughout the rest of their lives. Little Heroes Pediatric Dentistry is here for all the issues you can’t plan for. Your little one’s dental health is a lifelong goal of ours as well. Contact us at any of our three locations in the Rio Grande Valley today to schedule an appointment.