Healthy Eating Tips
The development and ongoing health of your child’s teeth is based on good nutrition. Our healthy eating tips will help your child’s teeth from the time your baby is an embryo, through childhood and into adulthood.
What’s best for my developing baby?
Your developing baby needs calcium for strong teeth and bones, to build healthy muscles and even to develop a normal heart rhythm and blood-clotting. Calcium is found in milk, cheese, sardines and salmon (with bones), nuts, dried beans and tofu, and leafy green vegetables. Your doctor may also sometimes prescribe calcium supplements and provide you with healthy eating tips to ensure you and your baby are getting sufficient calcium. If you don’t get sufficient calcium in your diet, your developing baby will draw on your calcium, which may affect your own health.
Even after your baby is born, ensure you get sufficient calcium to protect your teeth and bones, and ward off osteoporosis later as you age.
Should my baby have a bedtime bottle?
Giving your baby or toddler a bottle of milk at bedtime dramatically increases their risk of getting holes in their teeth. This is known as ‘early childhood caries’ or ‘baby bottle tooth decay’. The milk pools in their mouth as they sleep and the sugar in the milk causes holes in your baby’s teeth.
If your baby really needs a bottle at bedtime, fill it with water, not milk. If your baby already has a bottle of milk when they sleep, gradually dilute the milk with water over 1-2 weeks until your baby is okay with drinking water as they sleep
What should my toddler drink?
Water is the best drink for children. Tap water is the best choice as it contains a small amount of fluoride to protect teeth.
Juices, cordials and even milks are very high in sugar. While many parents argue that natural sugar isn’t harmful to health, all sugars, natural and unnatural, are damaging to tooth enamel, so should be kept as a treat, not for every day.
When your baby is 6 months old or when they get their first tooth, introduce a sippy cup. This will force them to suck the liquid and prevent milk and juice pooling around their teeth.
What foods are best for my child’s growing teeth?
Fresh food is better for children’s teeth and overall health, so ensure you give them healthy eating tips as they grow. Encourage your child to choose fresh food by making it fun. Get them involved in the cooking process, make food into fun shapes and encourage them to eat different coloured foods to provide a balanced diet.
Have set mealtimes and reduce snacking between meals, as frequent snacking can increase a child’s risk of decay. If your child needs a snack between meals, give them healthy food choices such as cut-up vegetables, cheese and fruit.
If you have a sweet treat for your child, give it to them with their meal. Foods that are eaten as part of a meal cause less harm to teeth than eating snacks, because more saliva is released during a meal. Saliva helps wash foods from the mouth and lessens the effects of acids, which can harm teeth and cause cavities. You should also give them a drink of water afterwards to rinse their teeth.
How does sugar affect my child’s teeth?
Tooth decay happens when plaque comes into contact with sugar in the mouth, causing acid to attack the teeth. This makes sugar a key cause of decay in kids’ teeth.
Watch your child’s intake of sugary food and drink, and select food that is not processed or packaged, as these tend to be healthier.
When shopping, teach your child to read the food labels on food and drinks, and to choose options that are lowest in sugar. Remember, however, that diet fizzy drinks and colas are still high in acid so should be avoided.
What about Dental Hygiene?
As well as following these healthy eating tips, ensure your child brushes twice daily and flosses once or twice daily. Visit the dentist regularly to prevent problems and catch any cavities or issues in the early stages, minimising the need for invasive treatment.