A proper, balanced diet promotes good dental health throughout your life. Without the right nutrients, your child’s teeth and gums become more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease and mouth tissue can have a harder time resisting infection.
At Hometown Family Dental Centers — with locations in Vass, Fayetteville, and Raeford, North Carolina — our specialists care for your entire family under one roof. Our full-scale family dentistry practice helps your child develop lifelong habits that prevent future oral health problems that would require invasive dental work.
Establishing a positive connection with the dentist at a young age is important to ease dental anxiety and encourage great dental health habits for years to come. And great dental habits include a healthy diet.
How does diet affect my child’s dental health?
Children with unhealthy eating habits are more likely to experience long-term health problems later in life, like osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. When you eat a lot of fat, sugar, and salt as a kid, you're more likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis as an adult.
A poor diet can harm your child’s teeth and gums, too, and serious oral health problems can limit their ability to chew and eat, leading to malnutrition. The body's natural defenses keep bacteria under control, but without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that lead to mouth infections.
Can diet affect my child's behavior?
Proper nutrition can help kids grow strong and hit their milestones. Your child’s diet also affects their behavior. Research shows it can affect everything from a child's growth to their mood and learning ability. Poor nutrition can leave your child feeling stressed and tired. It even affects your child's social and emotional development.
Nutrients like folic acid, vitamin B6, and choline are necessary to synthesize certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that regulate mood and memory. An imbalance in neurotransmitters is often associated with mood-related conditions like anxiety and depression.
Children with depression or anxiety are at increased risk of dental disease due to oral hygiene neglect. They’re more likely to experience bruxism (teeth grinding) and gingivitis.
The best nutrition for your child’s oral health
Saliva is the mouth’s natural protection mechanism. It protects the teeth and gums, rinses the mouth of bacteria, and keeps teeth plaque-free. Proper nutrition helps saliva fulfill its function.
The things your child eats have the greatest impact on their oral health. Raw vegetables and crisp fruit help clean plaque from teeth, and chewing these foods stimulates saliva production.
Dairy products are rich in calcium and promote healthy teeth, especially while your child is growing. Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, or fennel also help your child reach their daily need for calcium.
Other foods that are best for healthy teeth and gums include:
- Yogurt and cheeses
- Carrots and celery
- Leafy greens
- Lean proteins
Including these foods in your diet can improve your child’s oral and overall health. Try practicing healthy habits with your kids, such as minimizing processed snack foods and lowering sugar intake.
And don’t forget water: Drinking water prevents dehydration and helps keep your teeth and mouth cleaner, especially after a meal — rinsing away bacteria helps you avoid tooth decay and promotes better oral health.
Trust the Hometown Family Dental Centers team when choosing a family dentistry specialist. Contact the location nearest you or request an appointment online today to learn more tips about proper nutrition for your child’s best oral health.