How Nutrition Can Help Prevent Children’s Dental Decay

Teeth are meant to last a lifetime and a healthy smile is important to self-esteem. The good news is you can protect your child from developing tooth decay, a disease that damages and breaks down teeth. Your child can have a lifelong healthy smile by routinely following these steps:

Proper at-home care that includes brushing and flossing teeth two times per day .
Routine pediatric dental visits.
Good nutrition.

In this third installment of our blog series about “ preventing dental decay in children ,” we’re going to focus on the importance of maintaining a balanced diet and limiting snacking.

Food choices and constant snacking affects teeth and can increase the risk for developing tooth decay. This happens because sugars from carbohydrates combine with bacteria already found in the mouth and produce acids that can attack tooth enamel. Because plaque is sticky and constantly forming on the teeth, it keeps harmful acids against the teeth. These acids begin to wear away the tooth’s protective hard outer surface called enamel, and overtime cause cavities.

Here are simple at-home steps that focus on nutrition to aid in reducing the amounts of acids building up in your child’s mouth:

Help your child develop good eating habits.
Limit snacking in between meals. If your child does need a snack, make it healthy. Offer your child fruits or vegetables.
Save sugary sweet treats for mealtime when the mouth creates more saliva to help rinse away food particles.
Learn more about a healthy diet at www.choosemyplate.gov .

In our next blog series about dental decay prevention, we will focus on what liquids to serve your child and when.