A child’s formative years are especially crucial to begin proper oral cleaning and care. And it’s just as important (if not moreso) to encourage children to eat right in order to improve their health from head to toe. Often, however, parents neglect to think about how the food and drink that their kids consume can have a lasting impact on their oral health. Poor foods and drink can cause premature tooth decay, which may not seem serious for baby teeth, since they fall out.

Think about this, though: Parents inform lifelong habits in their children, and eating healthy can help to keep adult teeth strong, just as it can help to keep baby teeth strong. Moreover, good nutrition can bolster the growth of adult teeth as they grow out of the jaw and into the mouth. So, it’s essential to support good oral health and strong teeth (both baby and adult teeth) with a good diet, and some healthy habits and care. Today, we’re going to go over a few of the foods that children should avoid to aid in the healthy growth of their teeth. Let’s dig into our list of food and drink that kiddos should avoid in order to keep their teeth and mouths healthy.

Sugary Drinks

Almost every kid loves soda, juices, and other sugary drinks. And unfortunately, its these sugary beverages that can lead to premature tooth decay, cavities, and a variety of other oral health issues. Sugar simply isn’t good for the mouth, teeth, or frankly, the body. And when sugar is given a chance to sit on the surface of teeth, it can grow plaque and damage enamel. Keep the consumption of sugary drinks to a minimum, and be sure to have your kids brush their teeth 30 minutes after drinking anything sugary and sweet, to help wash away harmful sugars that stick to the surfaces of teeth. You can also encourage your children to drink water after drinking sugary drinks to mitigate the amount of sugar left in the mouth.

Sugary Foods

Like sugary drinks, sugary foods can damage teeth and harm oral health. Make sure that candy and snacks aren’t a daily staple in your kiddo’s diet. Instead, consider moderating their sugar intake by making sugary foods a reward for good behavior or a once-a-day treat. Limit the amount of sugar consumed to a small portion (like a small handful of gummy bears, an individual piece of candy, or a single scoop of ice cream), and follow up sugary snacks with a glass of water and tooth brushing after 30 minutes (waiting for 30 minutes provides enough time for salivation to naturally balance the pH of the mouth, which protects enamel).

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits may be a good addition to the diet, but their consumption should be moderated, and fruits should be consumed with other food to reduce the acidity of the mouth. Be mindful of lemons, grapefruit, limes, oranges, and other citrus fruits which can alter the pH balance of the mouth, causing enamel to erode. Again, it’s good practice to wash down citrus fruits with a glass of water and brushing 30 minutes after consumption.

Starches

Starchy foods may seem innocent enough, but the starch of bread, pasta, chips, potatoes, and other foods can turn to sugar in the mouth, where it will begin to damage the protective enamel surface of teeth. What’s worse is that foods like potato chips and pasta can easily wedge themselves between teeth, where they can decay and harbor plaque-causing bacteria. Follow up starchy foods with cleansing veggies (like celery or carrots), which can naturally whisk away sticky starches from teeth.

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