How Eating Habits Affect Oral Health

child hudsonville dental kids healthy eating habits oral health

Feeding your child every day has its challenges. There are foods that your child loves, but aren’t the healthiest and others they can’t stand but need for a balanced diet. It can be exhausting to convince them on what’s best. Thankfully, our Hudsonville, MI, pediatric dentist is here to help with advice on healthy eating habits for children.

Stopping by a drive-through for an easy meal is fine every now and then, but it’s important to also understand that what your child eats affects the state of their teeth and gums. Consuming an excess amount of sugary food or drinks can lead to the development of childhood cavities and the placement of either dental fillings or dental crowns.

Here’s how you can keep track of your child’s nutrition and ensure their teeth remain strong as they mature.

What to Monitor 

When it comes to food, there is so much out there to choose from that it can be hard to know what is and isn’t best for your child. Your decision can also become further complicated due to clever marketing on packages at the grocery store. Sometimes it takes carefully reading the nutrition facts listed to uncover more hidden details that may not be obviously apparent.

Once you know what to look out for, it’s easy to spot certain dietary offenders while perusing the grocery aisles. Let’s look at a few major food categories that can be harmful to your child’s oral health if eaten too often.

Foods to Limit

You’ve probably heard it before: everything is fine in moderation. Well, there is truth to the saying. Though it is impractical to eliminate certain foods from your child’s diet, it is possible to limit how much they are consumed. 

For example, make sweets something to enjoy during special occasions, like birthday parties or holidays, instead of daily. A mindful attitude toward food will promote good oral hygiene and healthy teeth.

Learn MoreWays to Keep Kids’ Teeth Healthy Around the Holidays

Be sure to monitor food items that fall into these categories:

  • Sugary Foods: fruit juices, soda, candy, cake, fruit gummies.
  • Acidic Foods: citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, limes, lemons.
  • Starchy Foods: bread, chips, pasta.
  • Chewy Foods: caramel, toffee, gum.

When your child consumes sugary foods, the sugar feeds the bacteria in plaque and causes it to release an acid that attacks enamel. You can help combat the effects of these types of foods by making sure your child is regularly brushing and flossing after eating.

Bringing your child into our Hudsonville, MI, pediatric dental office for teeth cleanings every 6 months also protects their teeth from decay.

Healthy Food and Snacks to Choose

You might be asking, “Well what should my child eat?”. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a balanced diet should include the following:

  • Grains
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Lean proteins
  • Dairy

When trying to incorporate items from each category, you can use the image of a plate to guide you. For instance, half of the plate should be fruits and vegetables of various colors and varieties. A quarter of the plate should include whole grains in some capacity whether it’s whole wheat pasta, oats, or brown rice. The last quarter of the plate should consist of healthy protein like fish, poultry, beans, and nuts.

Helpful Tips5 Vitamins & Minerals for Strong Teeth

Practice Good Habits to Avoid Cavities

Sugary snacks and foods are enticing for children but eating too much of them can lead to oral health complications down the road. Our pediatric dentist in Hudsonville, MI, encourages you to keep your child’s mouth healthy with good eating habits and routine teeth cleanings every 6 months. To schedule an appointment, call Hudsonville Dental Kids today at (616) 209-4039.

This blog post has been updated.