How your child’s diet can affect their teeth

A diet high in calcium is essential for healthy teeth and bones.
A diet high in calcium is essential for healthy teeth and bones. 

Providing your children with a healthy diet is the key to ensuring the wellbeing of their teeth. Knowing what to feed your kids and teaching them healthy eating habits now will guarentee a big healthy grin later.

Why is a healthy diet so important to kids’ teeth?

Teeth are protected by an outside layer of enamel that helps fight decay. This enamel is considered the hardest mineral substance in your body. Despite its strength, its weakness is sugar and acid found in all kinds of food and drink. Also, the enamel on kids’ milk teeth is thinner than what we have as adults and as a result are more vulnerable.

Neil Hewson, president of the Australian Dental Association says both sugar and acid damage the teeth by eroding the minerals in the enamel of the tooth. But sugar is worse as bacteria thrives on it.

What can happen if you eat the wrong food?

The foods we eat provide our teeth with important nutrients needed to support the growth of stronger teeth but on the other hand some foods can lead to tooth decay, erosion and even loss of teeth later in life.

When we eat sugar, the plaque on our teeth turns it into acid which then attacks the enamel causing it to soften. If your child’s diet is high in sugary foods and drinks their teeth will be exposed to sugar and acid longer, that is when the decay and erosion can begin.

What kids should be eating?

What some parents don’t know is that it is just as important to avoid high-acid food and drink as well as sugar.

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Spokesman for Choice consumer group, Brad Schmitt, said. "What they don't realise is these products in some cases are just as bad".

The obvious answer is to cut out food that is high in acid and sugar but what else should parents be feeding their children to help maintain healthy teeth and gums?

  • Dairy products such as milk and yogurt are low in acidity and sugar making them a great snack. Milk is rich in calcium, which is valuable for teeth and bones.
  • Cheese is another dairy product with important dental benefits. It helps to produce more saliva to wash away food, rebuilds tooth enamel and kills the bacteria that cause cavities.
  • Proteins such as beef, chicken, eggs and turkey are rich in phosphorus. Phosphorus and Calcium work together to keep teeth and bones strong.
  • Vegetables are also brilliant for maintaining healthy teeth. Broccoli, carrots, sweet potato and pumpkin are high in Vitamin A, which is used to form tooth enamel.
  • Fruit is great for your teeth, as it massages your gums and prevents plaque. If your children are low in Vitamin C their gums may become tender and more prone to gum disease.

By combining a healthy diet with brushing morning and night and regular trips to the dentist you will be setting your child up for a lifetime of problem-free teeth.