Our health begins in the mouth!
That’s why it’s important that parents ascertain their child’s oral health too! Apart from strong teeth, he also needs strong gums.
However, kids are picky eaters and always run away from brush and bath. This makes it very difficult for a parent to maintain their dental hygiene. Whoever said brush twice a day never had a child to work with!
But, is brushing and flossing the only way to ensure your kid’s dental care? Or does food play any role in maintaining the integrity of his mouth?
What your child eats now plays an important role in maintaining his dental health. So, today, I will reveal those nutritional secrets to your kid’s dental care; what nutrients make your kid’s teeth and gums healthy.
Chew on this:
|Protein||A macro-nutrient present in organ meats, dairy foods, legumes and lentils. It is necessary for tooth structure*, mucosal and connective tissue development and immune function to fight the diseases of the mouth.|
|Calcium & Vitamin D||Present in most of the dairy items, they are important for tooth structure and enamel re-mineralisation.|
|Phosphorus||Present in meat and whole grains, it is an important mineral for development and maintenance of tooth structure.|
|Zinc||Important for mucosal/connective tissue of the mouth and immune function. Found in seafood and fortified breakfast cereals.|
|Folate||Important for maintaining the periodontal integrity and mucosal tissue. Found in most fruits and vegetables.|
|Iron||Present in greens and legumes, it is required for mucosal tissue and oral immunity.|
|Vitamin C||Found in citrus fruits, it is important for collagen maturation and maintenance of periodontal ligament.|
|Omega-3-fatty acids||Present in nuts and seeds and most fishes, it checks the inflammatory responses in the oral cavity.|
|B vitamins||They maintain the epithelial cells in the mucosal lining of the mouth. Sources include spinach, beans, nuts and seeds, soymilk, eggs and dairy, fish and chicken.|
The nutrients mentioned above help in developing healthy teeth and gums of your child.
But when you go shopping, you actually cannot search for a particular nutrient.
So, How to Take Care of your Child’s Teeth?
Luckily, you need not make any extra effort to choose foods for your kid’s dental care. These special foods take care of your child’s dental health:
Probiotics are the food items containing live bacteria in them.
Don’t worry! These live bacteria are the good bacteria which suppress the growth of other harmful pathogens in the oral cavity. They also improve digestive health.
Found mostly in fermented foods, probiotics help to decrease gingivitis (swelling of the gums) and plaque formation. Consumption of fermented dairy products is also useful for preventing periodontal diseases.
Berries like cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries are rich in a compound known as anthocyanins. This compound prevents the attachment and colonisation of pathogens in the oral cavity, gums, and teeth.
Anthocyanins are also found in red cabbage and eggplant (baingan) peel. They act as antioxidants and flavonoids and prevent free radical damage and inflammation of the gums. However, being rich in staining compounds like flavonoids, eating too many berries can lead to teeth staining. So, it’s advisable to brush the teeth right after eating them.
Arginine is an amino acid found naturally in the saliva along with calcium. It lowers the pH of the mouth and prevents the growth of bacteria and cavity formation.
You might find this amino acid at the back of your toothpaste tube.
Arginine can also be supplemented via diet. Arginine-rich foods include pumpkin seeds, soybeans, peanuts, chicken, pork loin, chickpeas, and lentils.
Whole foods are defined as plant-based foods that are unprocessed and unrefined. Chewing whole foods will make your mouth, gums and teeth exercise a little.
Also, whole foods help in the production of more saliva and keep bacteria at bay. Examples of whole food are whole grains, tubers (plant parts that grow under the soil surface like potato, sweet potato, beetroot, etc.), fresh and raw fruits and vegetables, and legumes.
Being a Nutritionist, it was impossible for me not to mention this nutrient’s truth in our dental care!
Fluoride helps prevent cavities and tooth decay by coming in direct contact with the tooth enamel (outside of the tooth). Therefore, you find many types of toothpaste containing fluoride in them.
However, if you consume fluoride from sources such as drinking water, it gets absorbed into the bloodstream. It then attacks the enamel from inside and causes mottling of the teeth (discolouration and pitting of teeth). This condition is known as fluorosis.
Thus, brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride-rich toothpaste is enough to promote re-mineralisation of the enamel and maintain teeth integrity. You need not consume fluoride in your diet.
How Can You Ensure Healthy Smiles for Kids?
You can do this by following the instructions given below for oral hygiene which:
- Prevent sticking of food in between the teeth and gums
- Protect from tooth decay
- Check bacterial growth in the oral cavity
- Motivate the child to take care of his dental health
- Regulate the production of saliva
- Maintain a healthy digestive system
Health is from head to toe; mouth being the first organ of our digestive system requires extra care.
But, it’s only a few of us that actually understand the importance of food for oral and dental care. I feel happy that you and I are amongst those few now. After all, a healthy smile at the end of the day is all that matters!
Have any other suggestions for the kid’s dental care? Share them in the comments below!
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Know more about the right nutrients to feed your child for his overall health, directly from the mouth of our dietician and nutritionist.Consult Us