Most people say that having a beautiful smile can boost their confidence in life. But approximately 32% of people say they’re concerned about the look of their teeth… and we all know that dental care doesn’t come cheap. If you want your child to have superior oral health, it’s important to start early. But in addition to dental care tips, like regular brushing and flossing and early visits to your dentist, there may be other ways to ensure your family stays cavity-free — like the meals you make right at home.
Restrict Your Acids
Even if you’re vigilant about oral hygiene, consuming too many acidic foods or drinks can be dangerous for your teeth. In fact, the American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatrics say that parents should refrain from giving juice to any child under one year old. This is mainly due to its high sugar content, but it’s an important lesson for grownups, too. Drinks with high acidity (and yes, that includes wine) can be damaging to tooth enamel and lead to increased cavities. If you or your children do indulge in sugary and/or acidic foods or drinks, be sure to get the toothbrush out right after.
Go Ham On Yams
That isn’t to say that all sweet stuff is bad. Sweet potatoes (which are actually yams) are excellent for oral health — when they’re not loaded with marshmallows, that is. This vitamin A-rich food helps with salivary function and helps to keep your mouth’s pH levels consistent, which helps to prevent tooth decay. They also have more potassium than bananas, making them a great snacking option.
Remember Whole Fruits Are Your Friend
Just because you should restrict your juice consumption doesn’t mean that fruit = bad. Firm, fibrous fruits like apples are a good option because their crunchy texture is a natural workout for your jaw. And strawberries can promote healing, which can make your gums stronger. Fiber is really important for strong teeth, and your body won’t get as many nutrients out of these items if you stick them in a smoothie. It be a convenient way to eat breakfast, but there are sometimes better ways to fuel young bodies.
Be Nutty About Nuts
Phosphorus-rich foods are tooth enamel protectors, and nuts are filled with phosphorus. In fact, one ounce of raw peanuts contains 107 mg of phosphorus. This element can help reduce cavity risk by helping our saliva to neutralize acids. So whether you like to snack on them raw or would rather spread PB on your toast, it’s definitely a tooth-friendly snack. Plus, with high levels of protein, potassium, and fiber, it’s an option that will keep you fuller for longer (and will reduce your risk of reaching for something more sugary later on).
Don’t Assume Fat Is A Bad Thing
Remember that not all fats are created equal. Avocados are a great source of healthy fat, but they also contain a lot of potassium — a mineral that can strengthen bones and keep them from breaking down. We all think of calcium as important part of strong, healthy bones, but a lack of potassium can lead to tooth decay too. You might also be surprised to learn that butter contains vitamin B12, which can promote gum health and even heal canker sores. If you don’t have enough vitamin B in your diet, you may be more prone to gum infections and subsequent tooth loss. If you’re a dairy fan, keep in mind that cheese is a great option for teeth and gums, as its calcium and B12 can protect both (and who doesn’t want an excuse to eat more cheese?).
Ultimately, it’s vital to eat everything in moderation. Too much butter, of course, won’t make for a healthy diet. But the stuff we might be inclined to see as “healthy,” like fruit juices, can actually be detrimental to our bodies — particularly developing ones. While this doesn’t mean you have to remove these foods from your diet completely, awareness is key to ensuring the foods you eat support your dental care efforts. Plus, tooth-healthy foods are generally healthy in general, meaning that you can help your family start enjoying these staples from an early age.