The Best & Worst Foods for Children's Teeth
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.
Our teeth play a very important role in our lives. They help us to chew and digest food, as well as talk and speak clearly. Teeth can also shape our face and allow us to smile, which can provide us with confidence and open the door to relationships. Ensuring that kids’ teeth stay healthy and strong, from the moment baby teeth first sprout up in infancy through the first permanent tooth coming in, can be directly affected by their nutritional intake.
Enamel is the thin, hard mineral coating that covers the teeth, protecting them from decay as well as the stress of chewing. Although enamel is one of the strongest and hardest materials in the body, it can become weakened, by the acids and sugars in certain foods and drinks and, once gone, cannot be restored.
1) Which foods/drinks are most beneficial for dental health?
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 with D3 and K2 can provide kids with the calcium and vitamin D that their diet may be lacking.
Other important tooth strengthening nutrients include vitamins A, and D, protein, and phosphorus, which can be found in foods like eggs, lean meat, fish, strawberries 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, or smoothies.
2) Which foods/drinks are the worst offenders?
Sugary treats: Sugar can lead to the buildup of bacteria on our teeth, which in turn can lead to tooth decay. Certain sweets that kids tend to gravitate towards such as lollipops, hard candies, and jellybeans are even worse than other treats because they stay in the mouth for longer periods of time. Gummy multivitamins are also 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. Try the Renzo’s Picky Eater Multivitamin instead, which comes in a dissolvable Melty Tab that won’t stick to the teeth. Renzo’s products are all free of sugars and are sweetened with monk fruit and xylitol instead. Xylitol tastes sweet but, unlike sugar, it doesn't cause tooth decay, and can reduce the levels of cavity-causing bacteria in the saliva. Pediatric Dentists will thank you!
Sugary drinks: One 12-ounce can of soda exceeds the daily maximum amount of added sugars that children should consume in a day. Not only are sugary beverages contributing to the rising rates of pediatric obesity, but they are also wreaking havoc on kids’ teeth. Switching to diet soda does not help matters either because the carbonation causes the drink to become acidic, which can erode the enamel of the teeth. Fruit juices can be very acidic as well and contain high amounts of sugars, although 100% fruit juice contains no added sugars, the natural sugar can coat the teeth. Try gradually weaning off of soda or juice by adding mineral or plain water to the beverages, and phase out the sugary stuff!
Renzo's Vitamins provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice.