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Childhood Dental Health and Nutrition: Foods that protect and harm young teeth

Tooth decay is a menacing reality, especially among young children. Lack of dental hygiene complemented by unhealthy eating habits has made dental health a serious concern for young children. In such a scenario, it becomes essential to educate children about the essential habits about dental health, and about the foods that protect and harm young teeth. As children spend a significant portion of the day away from the supervision of parents, they can consume food items that can harm their teeth. Thus, parents and teachers need to develop awareness and an innate consciousness among children to be watchful about what they eat and follow a healthy dental hygiene regime. This article talks about certain foods that can protect dental health and certain foods that can be damaging to young teeth.

Also Read: Why Do Children Bite and How to Stop Them From Biting

Foods that protect young teeth

Cheese

Cheese is an important source of calcium, which helps the growth and strengthening of teeth and bones. Cheese is also a key source of “good bacteria” which further helps in strengthening young teeth.

Butter

Butter is a rich source of vitamins A, D and K2 which are key nutrients essential for child growth, including the teeth. Butter is high in fat content and also acts as a replacement for sugar, one of the primary causes of tooth decay in children. Butter also enhances the taste of food and hence is a favourite among children.

Carrots

Raw carrots are high in fibre content which increases the production of good bacteria in the mouth that support healthy teeth. Raw carrots are also rich in various nutrients and antioxidants such as magnesium and zinc. Chewing on rough and fibrous food is essential for healthy teeth and raw carrots efficiently serve both purposes.

Meat with Bone

Food that does not require much chewing is not healthy for young and developing teeth. In such a scenario, bone with meat is a good combination which allows kids to chew, thus strengthening their teeth. Meat variants such as bone marrow, ribs and chicken legs are especially advisable to build dental health for children. Meat pieces that include skin, bone, tendon, and cartilage are a rich source of nutrients for healthy gums. The mineral that is received directly by chewing on the bone can be extremely nutritious in developing dental health. Caution must be exercised while giving bones as they carry the hazard of choking or injuries.

Also Read: Guide to Braces for Kids – Dental health for kids with braces

Whole Wheat Bread

Whole wheat bread is another rich source of fibre, extremely useful for dental health and also helps in improving digestion and reducing chances of diarrhoea. Whole wheat bread cuts down the blood sugar level and reduces bad cholesterol in the system. Whole wheat bread also gives a feeling of being “full”, thus avoiding munching on junk food which can be extremely unhealthy for their dental hygiene.

Broccoli

Broccoli and other such green vegetables are always a good choice for not just dental health, but overall health and wellness. Raw broccoli is a high-fibre food which promotes the development of probiotic bacteria in the mouth which promotes dental health. Broccoli is also a rich source of nutrients such as vitamins K1, C, chromium, and folate. It is always advisable to consume broccoli in raw format rather than cooked as cooking strips it of some of its key nutrients.

Eggs

Eggs are highly nutritious food as they are rich in vitamin K2, which directly contributes to the child’s dental health. Eggs are also a rich source of other healthy nutrients such as vitamins A, D, B5, B12, and folate, and other healthy nutrients such as calcium, zinc, and selenium.

Yoghurt

Yoghurt is a rich source of calcium that results in strong teeth. Yoghurt is also a source of casein and phosphorus that protect the enamel of the kid’s teeth. Yoghurt also contains natural probiotic bacteria that keep the teeth healthy and prevent tooth decay.

Apple

Apple is a rich fibrous food that supports healthy teeth and can be a potent source of dental health for kids. Chewing apples can be a good exercise for the gums and it also prevents cavities. Apple is a rich source of vitamin C that leads to healthy gums for kids.

Tea

Tea is a rich source of polyphenol that keeps the growth of bacteria under check and also prevents tooth decay and the formation of cavities. Black tea can also fight against plaque formation. Black tea also helps in fighting against bad breath and helps in maintaining good oral hygiene.

Also Read: Everything You Need to Know About Giving Your Child Non-Dairy Milk

Foods that harm young teeth

Sugary Drinks

Sugar is the leading cause of tooth cavities. Sugar damages the tooth enamel resulting in its decay. Kids must cut down on any drinks that contain excessive sugar.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits such as grapefruit and lemon are a rich source of vitamin C but also have a high acidic content. High acidic content leads to the decay of the tooth enamel in the long term.

Candies

Candies are heavy in sugar content. Chewing candies leads to sugar sticking to the teeth which can result in tooth cavities. Kids must cut down on chewy candies and make sure to brush their teeth well if they do happen to consume them.

Wheat flour starches

Starches such as chips, pasta, and white bread made from wheat flour can be harmful to young teeth. Starches break down into sugars and cause harm to the teeth without providing any nutritional benefits.

Healthy teeth are an essential component of an overall healthy body. A healthy dental regime is essential, especially at a young age, because of kids’ eating habits that weigh heavily on a preference for sugary and junk foods.

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