It is essential that at a very young age, parents should protect their child’s teeth from factors that may cause tooth decay. They should take care of their child’s temporary teeth because their condition will help define the growth and condition of his/her permanent teeth later in life. Often times, parents would only focus on one aspect of preventive dental care and that is improving the child’s oral hygiene. Although it is an important facet of dental care, tooth decay prevention also includes diet modification and knowledge dissemination to children regarding the cause, symptoms of tooth decay and what tooth-friendly types of foods should they eat to prevent cavities.
Nutrition plays an important role in the condition of your child’s existing teeth and the growth of his/her permanent teeth. These are some tips for your children’s teeth with regards to diet modification:
• Start limiting the amount of high sugar snacks in your child’s diet. Offer healthier snack alternatives such as vegetables sticks, water-rich fruits and cheese cubes.
• Do not give your child sugar-rich treats with empty calories like hard candies and sticky sweets. These kinds of treats allow sugar to stick on the teeth and when it combines with the bacteria in his/her mouth, an acid is formed that causes dental cavities.
• To avoid tempting the child to eat sweet treats and snacks, stop buying them. When buying foods, check their sugar content. As much as possible, only buy unsweetened food products.
• Limit his/her carbonated drinks intake. Only give juices during meals, when an increased production of saliva is present to wash away sugar residue that clings into the teeth. Milk should not be given before sleep. If done so, have your child brush his/her teeth or rinse his/her mouth with water to remove sugar residue.
• Encourage your child to drink only water in between meals.
• Include calcium-rich foods (milk, cheese and yogurt) and fluorine-rich foods (sunflower seeds, carrots and turnips) to his/her diet for stronger teeth and to prevent dental cavities.
It is important to teach your child the benefits of cutting sugar in his/her diet. You may want to use storytelling as a method of teaching your child how sugar along with the bacteria present in your mouth can cause tooth decay. You should also teach him/her that toothache and swelling of the gums are symptoms present in tooth decay. And if ever he/she experience this, he/she should inform you (the parent) so that you can bring him/her to a pediatric or family dentist, to have it examined and treated. Since you’re at it, teach your child healthy food alternatives to sugary snacks.
Practicing good oral hygiene, healthy food choices and putting into action the knowledge learned, your child will be able to prevent tooth decay. You should work hand-in-hand with your child’s dentist to keep his/her teeth healthy, strong and cavity free.