Food For Your Teeth: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!
It’s not a world class secret anymore: Sugar causes decay!
Even a third grader can tell you that.
Yet here we are: According to the World Health Organization (WHO) half the world’s population is suffering from dental decay, making it the most common chronic disease on earth!
The cause? Plain and simple: Sugar, Sugar and Sugar.
Every time our child consumes anything sugary, the bacteria in the mouth consumes some of it and starts dissolving the hard-mineral layer of enamel, eventually leading to cavities forming. Soon enough if this cavity continues it reaches the nerve of the tooth leading to tooth ache.
The great news is: this is totally preventable. Our food and nutrition is both the problem and the cure.
Did you know that with every cavity your child has, studies show that he or she may loose upto 5% of their body weight because of improper eating habits! Shocking!
Don’t forget our children need their teeth to grow and remain healthy!
Here are 5 Foods to eat for your children’s milk teeth to stay healthy !
Your FIVE a DAY
Veggies: Duuuh. Goes without saying! However, here is three more reason why we should stick to the five a day recommendation for the sake of your teeth.
a. Crunchy vegetables (such as carrots, and bell peppers) contain vitamins, especially Vitamin C, a must have component for gum health. Vitamin C plays a vital role as glue between the cells forming a healthy and clean gum margin- which acts as the infrastructure of sound healthy teeth! Healthy gums …healthy smiles!
b. More importantly the crunchiness helps clean the teeth on chewing and acts as a natural stimulant to saliva and the gums.
c. Lastly their water rich content enriches the saliva and protects the teeth further from cavities.
Fruits are super healthy in children’s diet. Again, they provide these awesome vitamins that are essential for their growth and nutrition. In addition, they have all the richness of antioxidants like in berries. Not to forget some great electrolytes like bananas and potassium. Be mindful not to have too much sugar from fruits though, because despite this sugar being all natural, it still at the end of the day is just sugar that the bacteria can use if the bacteria get’s powerful enough. Beware!
Drink Your MILK:
High in Calcium, good fat and protein: milk, cheese, and yogurt are musts in our children’s diet for healthy strong teeth. Cheese is such a natural enhancer of salivary flow, more importantly after a sugary attack to the teeth it is able to neutralize the salivary acids that may lead to a cavity!
A great recommendation is to have a piece of cheese after a piece of chocolate or a birthday invite! The cheese helps the saliva to clear the sugar much faster; also helps “re-mineralize” the lost minerals in the tooth by in-flow of calcium.
A tip about the effect of cheese on the mouth:
Eat Your SEAFOOD:
Seafood and Chicken do contain fluoride. As a reminder, fluoride increases the strength and the “immunity” (resistance) of the enamel layer to tooth decay! It also works on decreasing the bacterial activity on the child’s teeth and make the teeth more resistant to tooth decay.
Have Your FAT:
You heard it right: Give your children good healthy fats! It is so important that children are fed healthy fat rich food like avocados regularly. Not only does this help with curbing the sugar cravings, more importantly it helps keep the kids satiated and much fuller for longer. A win-win for the mother who is trying to keep the child well fed and away from frequent unhealthy snacking that sabotages his apatite!
I hope this list of what to eat was super helpful. Let’s consider what’s there on the other hand; all the food we need to avoid to keep away from these horrible cavities and the ugly black color in children’s smiles!
Foods to Absolutely Avoid:
Say No to the Nutella:
As much as I hate to admit it, chocolate is yummy! However, it is basically behind all these cavities and all this pain experience in young children who are addicted to chocolate. Alright, I wont be recommending to go cold turkey on your child’s craving and deprive him of sugar. However, I will recommend this: limiting the sweet snack to known times either once per day or on the weekends. Especially limiting chocolates and other sugary snacks for right after a main meal and limit it to a very small controlled portion. Remember, the more the sugary snacks, the more the sugar attacks on the teeth which accumulates so easily leading to so many cavities in such a short period of time! Believe me, I see it every day on dozens and dozens of my patients.
The STICKY Attack:
Lollipops, brownies, and gummy bears are a few of the yummies that do a lot more damage to what they are worth (nutritionally!). They stick to the teeth and refuse to be cleansed and the longer they are allowed in close proximity to the teeth, the longer they are working their black magic in causing cavities.
My recommendation is to limit these HUGELY. Also if your child has a filling or a crown, to really really avoid these as they can also damage these restorations.
Not the CEREAL Trap!
Can you check how much sugar does your child’s cereal brand have? Unfortunately, again this sugar adds up so quickly and is definitely a risk factor for your child developing decay!
Can you take a guess what is the recommendation for daily sugar intake as per the WHO’s latest recommendations?
In both adults and children, WHO recommends reducing the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake. More like 25grams per day MAX! That’s right! Only 25grams. This is why it is so important for us to be so mindful of how much sugar we keep in our mouth!
Worthy to mention: Watch out for soft bread, popcorn, or potato chips, which can get stuck in child’s teeth easily. Some children develop a habit of pouching food for longer periods of time while they are eating. This habit is well known to allow the bacteria time enough to utilize these complex carbs in the mouth and do eventually lead to decay. If your child retains food in his or her mouth for a longer period of time make sure you brush his teeth more regularly and it is always a great idea to enlist the help of a nutritionist to overcome this habit.
The Fizzy Pop:
Do you know how many spoons of sugar does soda have? Easily 10 tablespoons. Not to mention the very high acidity (2.5 pH for most drinks). Sugar and acid together in one drink is like a recipe for disaster. I once had a beautiful 13-year-old girl who had 14 out of 24 of her permanent teeth starting to decay. After a lot of investigation, we found out she keeps a soda pop habit on the low! It was such a shame that this was happening to her permanent teeth, but the great news is once we stopped this habit, her mouth went back to its old glory and her teeth became strong and sparkly once more.
Here is a video talking about the effect of soda and teeth:
A moment ago, I said please eat your fruits, however, I always recommend to eat the actual fruit and not drink it. Think about it, if your hungry for some oranges, how many oranges can you eat at once. I would say TWO max! The problem with drinking the fruit, is for that same orange juice you easily need 5-7 fruits squeezed for one juice. Think about how much more sugar is the juice giving the teeth at once. Our teeth don’t need this much sugar all at once. This is how decay rapidly happens in little one’s teeth!
Watch this video for more information on how juices affect our teeth:
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