Article By: Dominica Dieffenbach, RDN
Dominica is a Registered Dietitian and mom of 2 kiddos currently specializing in the special needs pediatric population. She has over 15 years of experience as an RD, working with a wide variety of patients to provide them with individualized medical nutrition therapy and education.
As we kick off National Children's Dental Health Month in February, did you know that tooth decay is the most common chronic infectious disease among children?
Ensuring that a child's teeth grow healthy and strong can be directly affected by their nutritional intake and other lifestyle factors from a very early age. While we can sometimes underestimate the importance of baby teeth, they can go on to affect young kids’ speech and the development of adult teeth. Enamel, which is the thin, hard mineral coating that covers the teeth, protects them from decay as well as the stress of chewing. Although enamel can be one of the strongest materials in the body, its strength can be compromised by the acids and sugars in certain foods and drinks. Once gone, enamel cannot be restored.
1) Avoid putting your baby to bed with a bottle.
This is the most common cause of “baby bottle tooth decay” and happens when the teeth are exposed to frequent and prolonged contact with drinks that contain sugar. This often occurs when a baby is put to bed with a bottle or when a bottle is used frequently as a pacifier for a fussy baby. Breastmilk, formula, milk, and water are the only liquids that should be put in the bottle before bedtime... Avoid juice, sports drinks, and soda. Also try wiping down an infant's new teeth with a clean, damp cloth after feedings, and start weaning from the bottle and transition to a sippy cup by age 1.
2) Limit frequent snacking/grazing.
When we eat, from just a nibble to a full meal, the environment in the mouth becomes acidic as part of the body’s natural digestion process. This acid can cause the enamel to weaken over time and eventually lead to the formation of cavities. Having set meals and snack times, spaced out with water only between them, can limit the amount of acid the teeth are exposed to, which helps to strengthen kiddos' enamel.
3) Concentrate on calcium.
Calcium-rich foods can help to protect tooth enamel, making it stronger and able to fight off dental decay. Calcium is found primarily in dairy products such as milk, cheese, and plain yogurt as well as in leafy greens like kale, broccoli, almonds, beans, and fortified milk substitutes such as almond milk. Be sure to opt for low-sugar versions of these foods such as plain yogurt and unflavored milk. Got a picky eater? Renzo’s Hercules Calcium can provide kids with the calcium and vitamin D that their diet may be lacking to strengthen the enamel.
4) Increase fruits and veggies.
Besides calcium, other teeth-strengthening nutrients include vitamins A, D, and K and phosphorus, which can be found in foods like broccoli, strawberries, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers. Crunchy fruits and veggies like apples, carrots, and celery can also help to clean plaque from the teeth, and vitamin C found in citrus fruits, cantaloupe, and tomatoes can help to protect gums from cell damage. Try incorporating more fruits and veggies into kids’ meals, snacks, and smoothies. For picky kiddos who may not be getting a variety of fruits and veggies, supplementation with Renzo’s Picky Eater Multi can be beneficial.
Gummy vitamins are high in added sugars and tend to stick to the teeth, so while you may think you are providing your kiddos with the nutrients they need, it could be compromising their dental health. Renzo’s products come in a dissolvable Melty Tab format and are all sugar-free and sweetened with monk fruit, which taste sweet, but unlike sugar, doesn't cause tooth decay. Renzo's Vitamins also contain xylitol, which has the added benefit of reducing the levels of cavity-causing bacteria in the saliva.
Renzo's Vitamins provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice.