Your child needs to maintain a proper diet to ensure their body’s health. But what you eat can also impact your oral health. What is the best food for your child’s smile? You’re in luck if you’ve been looking for the best dental health advice El Cajon residents have at their disposal.
“As a pediatric dentist, I work with children of all ages,” says Dr. Santiago Surillo, who is also an orthodontist. “A big part of my job is education, both for my young patients and their parents. We want our patients to have healthy smiles that last a lifetime, so part of our job has to be talking about the foods that can help their smiles, as well as the foods that can damage.”
We have spoken at length about why it’s important you make oral hygiene a priority in your family. However, while dental hygiene is certainly crucial for children’s good oral health, so are their dietary habits.
Parents have the opportunity and responsibility to help their children appreciate healthy eating and drinking habits from an early age. Many foods and beverages can contribute to dental health complications.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that 45.8% of children between 2 and 19 years of age suffer from tooth decay. That means that almost half of US children are at risk of losing a tooth or developing some oral infection.
Let’s see what we should include in our kid’s diets to promote healthy and beautiful smiles.
The Best Food for Your Kid’s Teeth
- Dairy products are high in calcium, which can strengthen the tooth enamel layer. Milk and cheese are great snacks for your child. Cheese is an especially great snack, as it also contains casein, a protein that works to repair and stabilize tooth enamel, just like calcium. Just make sure you take into consideration any food allergies or intolerances.
- High-fiber foods, like leafy green vegetables, make your mouth work harder to chew, but that’s a good thing. Chewing creates saliva, which works to wash and scrub the teeth.
- Apples are high in both fiber and water. Not only will chewing them create more saliva to help clean the teeth, but the texture of the fruit also works to scrub your teeth and can stimulate your gums. Some fibrous fruits and vegetables even receive the name of “nature’s toothbrush.”
- Carrots and celery are also great snacks. Carrots are high in vitamin A, and celery is a good source of vitamins A and C.
- Almonds are a great source of both calcium and protein, which can help keep your teeth strong.
The Food That Can Hurt Your Child’s Smile
- Soda is full of sugar and, combined with carbonation, can make your child’s mouth overly acidic, thus weakening their tooth’s enamel.
- Citrus fruits and other acidic foods can attack the enamel of your teeth, making them more vulnerable to decay. Be careful about the amount your child eats and help them rinse their mouths when they’re done eating an orange or other acidic foods.
- Potato chips, pieces of bread, and other starchy foods turn into sugar in our mouths. This sugar then feeds off bacteria that may be living in our mouths, enabling a plaque buildup that will eat away at our enamel.
- Sticky foods, like fruit snacks, gummies, and even dried fruit, stick to the teeth, increase sugar levels in our mouth, and open them to bacterial attacks.
- Sports drinks are high in sugar, just like soda. Instead of a sports drink, give your child water.“
Best Food During an Orthodontic Treatment?
Remember we mentioned we also work on a child’s teeth and jaw alignment? Well, as an orthodontist, Dr. Surillo also has some recommendations for parents who want to make sure their kids complete their care as efficiently as possible.
Our choice of foods can break off parts of an orthodontic appliance. Some patients choose to ignore our professional recommendations, forget about some warnings, or maybe couldn’t resist a craving for foods like tacos or popcorn. However, the result remains the same; a bracket breaks off, or there are loose wires, and everyone panics.
First of all, we want to reassure you. Many of these orthodontic emergencies can wait until your next visit to the orthodontist. Just make sure you give us a call, and we’ll try to work on it as soon as possible.
So how does all of this relate to your kid’s choice of foods? Well, depending on the appliance used for your kid’s treatment, you will have to adjust their diet.
If the patient uses traditional braces, they will have to avoid hard and crunchy foods such as popcorn, hard crackers, and potato chips. Likewise, they should stay away from sticky foods. Many of these foods will stick to the metal brackets and metal wires, hurting your oral hygiene and promoting the growth of bacteria.
Teens with Invisalign clear aligners won’t require as many adjustments. These trays are removable, and patients should take them off when they go grab a bite. Patients should be careful about some beverages that could stain the aligners. Drinks such as cola sodas, black tea, and coffee won’t damage the trays; still, they will stain the aligners, defeating the whole “nearly invisible” purpose of this orthodontic appliance.
Meal Plan for the First Week of Braces for Your Child
We would highly recommend that patients beginning their orthodontic treatment should stick to soft foods. As your new appliance moves your teeth and jaws into position, your mouth will feel tender, your teeth will be highly sensitive, and you will feel some discomfort. The best food to eat in the first days of treatment include:
- Scrambled eggs
- Mashed potatoes
By the way, here’s a list of some snacks any patient can grab if they’re on some type of orthodontic treatment.
Get the Help You Need
It is important that children learn healthy habits early,” says Dr. Surillo. “Encourage them to enjoy sugary foods and drinks in moderation.
If your child likes to have a drink handy at all times, be sure it is a cup of water and not juice or soda. We can work together to ensure your child has a healthy, beautiful smile that will last a lifetime.”
Make an appointment to start getting the professional help your kid deserves and start the journey towards a beautiful and healthy smile!