In order to maintain optimal oral health for your child it is imperative that you focus on what they eat, and more importantly how often they eat it. Fluctuations to the pH of our mouths occur as soon as any food or liquids enter our mouth. It can take up to 20 minutes for our mouths to return to neutral pH. Therefore the more often your child is snacking or “grazing” the higher the risk of dental cavities.
Mouth-Healthy Foods and Drinks
The best food choices for the health of your mouth include cheeses, proteins such as chicken, and nuts. These foods are thought to protect tooth enamel by providing the calcium and phosphorus needed to remineralize teeth (a natural process by which minerals are redeposited in tooth enamel after being removed by acids).
Other food choices include firm/crunchy fruits, (for example, apples and pears,) and vegetables. These foods have a high water content, which dilutes the effects of the sugars they contain, and stimulate the flow of saliva (which helps protect against decay by washing away food particles and buffering acid). Acidic foods, such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and lemons, should be eaten as part of a larger meal to minimize the acid from them.
Poor food choices include bananas, raisins, and other dried fruits, candy — lollipops, hard candies, and mints — cookies, cakes, pies, breads, muffins, potato chips, pretzels, and french fries. These foods contain large amounts of sugar and/or can stick to teeth, providing a fuel source for bacteria. Be mindful of Gummy Vitamins as well, as these often have sugars to improve tastes and can stick to teeth.
The best beverage choices include water (especially fluoridated water), and milk (in moderation). Limit your consumption of sugar-containing drinks (less than 4 oz. per day for young children), including soft drinks, juice, lemonade, and sports drinks or tea with added sugar. Also, avoid day-long sipping of sugar-containing drinks — day-long sipping exposes your teeth to constant sugar and, in turn, constant decay-causing acids.