Establishing good nutritional habits for your child can provide the foundation for good eating patterns and food choices for the rest of his or her life. Think of your child’s mouth as the gateway to the rest of the body - whatever gets consumed can affect your child’s oral health as well as overall growth, development, weight, and energy levels. Eating a nutritious, balanced diet is important for the development of strong, healthy teeth.
General Tips for a Healthy Diet and a Healthy Mouth
- Limit your child’s consumption of sugary foods and beverages. When plaque combines with the sugars and starches, an acid is produced that attacks enamel on the teeth and can eventually cause decay.
- Make sure your child’s diet includes a balance of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, protein, and dairy products. The nutrients found in these foods are important to his or her growth and health.
- Look for sugar in unexpected places. Many foods that make up a balanced, healthy diet contain sugar — including fruit, some vegetables, and milk. The best time to eat these is during meal time, not as a snack.
- Speaking of snacks, limit your child’s snacking to only a few per day, and make sure they’re nutritious!
- Foods like candy and fruit snacks should be reserved for special occasions or avoided. Same with sugary beverages such as juice, flavored milks, or sweetened drinks.
- Assist or supervise your child to ensure that they are properly brushing their teeth twice per day and flossing their teeth once per day. These practices should hopefully eliminate sugars and food debris that could lead to harmful plaque, bacteria, and tooth decay
Dental Cleanings and Regular Checkups
Regular dental checkups are an important part of maintaining good oral health. During regular checkups, the hygienist will:
- Check for any problems that may not be seen or felt
- Look for cavities or other signs of tooth decay
- Inspect the teeth and gums for gingivitis and signs of periodontal disease
- Provide a thorough teeth cleaning, rinse, and polish
Visiting the dentist every six months gives you and your child the chance to talk with your doctor and receive answers for any questions you may have about your family’s oral health. Checkups are also a great way to find out about new treatments that may benefit your child’s smile.
Choosing the Right Toothpaste and Toothbrush
From toothpaste and mouthwash to toothbrushes and dental floss, it’s important to choose the right products. Keep in mind that when you’re looking for a new toothpaste or toothbrush be sure to choose one that has been approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). Your dentist can also help by recommending certain dental products for use at home.