Cheese Please: More on Diet and Snacking Tips for your Child
You are what you eat! That simple saying is so true and it is also important to remember that there are oral benefits to a balanced diet! What is a healthy diet? It is a balanced one, everything in moderation! ‘Balanced’ means that your child eats a variety of foods each day from the natural and basic groups of food that help them to grow: fruits, veggies, grains, meats, beans and milk. Having a balanced diet helps your child’s teeth to develop well and also to keep their gum tissue healthy. Remember, a diet that is high in sugars and starches can place your child at a higher risk for tooth decay.
Take some time to make a diet log of your child’s diet for 3 days, including a weekend. Afterwards, check the log to ensure that their diet is balanced. Take note of how often they eat foods with sugar or starch in them (breads, crackers, pasta, pretzels, potato chips, doritos, cheetos). Take note to the frequency of consuming foods like candies, gummies, fruit snacks, high sugar cereals (Lucky Charms, Frosted Flakes), chocolate milk, soda, juice, gatorade.
Does this mean that your child can never have sugars or starches?? NO! They don’t have to give up all foods with sugar or starch, but it is important to limit the frequency and serve them wisely. The key is balance and moderation. Sugary or starchy foods are better if eaten with a meal and not a snack. Sticky foods (raisins) are not easily washed away from teeth by saliva, water or milk so they have more cavity-causing potential.
Do not put a young child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice or sweetened liquid. Why is this important? Any unswallowed liquid in the mouth feeds bacteria that make acids and attack the your young child’s baby teeth, increasing their risk of tooth decay at an early age. Brush the teeth before bed and only put them to bed with a drink of water.
Here are some great tips:
1. Cheese please
Recent research shows that cheese is one of the healthiest snacks for your child’s teeth. In addition to providing large amounts of much-needed calcium, cheese also does its part to fight cavities. Cheddar, Swiss, Mozzarella, and Monterey Jack all stimulate the body’s salivary glands to clear the mouth of debris and protect teeth from acids that weaken them. This means that cheese disrupts the development of cavities, especially when eaten as a snack or at the end of a meal. Calcium and phosphorus found in cheese reduce or prevent drops in the plaque’s pH level and work to remineralize the enamel of your child’s teeth.
2. Ask your pediatric dentist to help asses your child’s diet
3. Shop smart- do not routinely stock your pantry with sugary or starchy snacks. Buy fun foods for special times.
4. Limit number of snack times (<3x/day) and choose nutritious snacks.
5. Provide a balanced diet (save foods with sugar or starch for meal times).
6. Do not put a young child to bed/nap with a bottle of milk, formula or juice!!
7. If your child chews gum, chose gums with xylitol
8. If your child sips soda, chose those without sugar and limit the frequency!