Your Teeth - Your Smile

Diet and Snacking

What is a healthy diet for my child?

A healthy diet is a balanced diet that naturally supplies all the nutrients your child needs to grow. A balanced diet is one that includes the following major food groups: Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Meat, Beans and Milk. These are the key groups according to the food pyramid.

How does my children’s diet affect their dental health?

They must have a balanced diet for their teeth and gums to develop properly. Just like their bones and eyes, good balanced nutrition while they are young is needed for them to grow strong and form well for a lifetime. Equally important, a diet high in certain kinds of carbohydrates, such as sugar and starches, may place your child at extra risk for obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

How do I make my children’s diet safe for their teeth?

First, be sure they have a balanced diet. Then, check how frequently they drink or eat foods with sugar or starch in them. Foods with starch include milk, breads, cereals, pasta and juices. Starchy or sugary snacks include chips, fruit rolls, dried fruit and, of course, candies. When checking for sugar, look beyond the sugar bowl and candy dish. A variety of foods contain one or more types of sugar and all types of sugars can promote dental decay. Fruits, milk and juice products have at least one type of sugar no matter how “Natural” or “Organic”.

Sugar can be found in many processed foods, even some that do not taste sweet. For example, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich not only has sugar in the jelly, but may have sugar added to the peanut butter and in the bread. Sugar is also added to condiments such as ketchup and salad dressings.

Should my child give up all foods with sugar or starches?

Certainly not! Starches are nutrients your child needs. You simply need to select and serve them wisely. A food with sugar or starch is safer for teeth if it is eaten with a meal, not as a snack. Sticky foods, such as dried fruit or taffies, are not easily washed away from the teeth by saliva or water. Therefore, they have more cavity-causing potential than foods more rapidly rinsed from the teeth. Talk to your pediatric dentist about selecting and serving foods that protect your child’s dental health.

Does a balanced diet assure that my child is getting enough fluoride?

No. A balanced diet does not guarantee the proper amount of fluoride for the development and maintenance of your child’s teeth. If you do not live in a fluoridated community or have an ideal amount of naturally occurring fluoride in your well water, your child may need a fluoride supplement during the years of tooth development. Your pediatric dentist can help assess how much your child may need based upon the amount of fluoride is in your drinking water and other potential sources of fluoride.

My youngest isn’t on solid foods yet. Do you have suggestions for him?

Do not nurse a young child to sleep or put him to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice or sweetened liquid. While a child sleeps, any leftover liquid in the mouth feeds the bacteria that produce acids that attack the teeth. Protect your child from severe tooth decay by putting him to bed with nothing more than a pacifier or bottle of water.

Also, see your dentist by their FIRST BIRTHDAY!

Your Teeth - Your Smile