While many animal species get three or four or sometimes even limitless sets of teeth, humans just get two. That means by as early as 5 your child may be caring for some of the teeth that need to last them the rest of their lives. But our diets and schedules in the modern era are typically centered around what’s tasty, cheap, and fast. Let’s go over some ways you can help your children protect and build strong teeth that will last well into their golden years.
Nutrition for Building Strong Teeth
A well-balanced diet is important for all aspects of your child’s health. Some micronutrients that are especially important for bone and tooth health are:
- Vitamin D
Read our blog post on those micronutrients for more specifics about the ideal amount of each based on the age of your child. Some specific foods that offer good micronutrients for dental development while also offering good textures for bone development are:
- Leafy Greens
- Sugarless Gum (with Xylitol)
Of course, for many health reasons, avoid sugar whenever possible. Choose drinks and snacks that are not sweetened.
Even before your child has teeth, clean their mouth twice a day. If they don’t have teeth yet, use a warm, damp washcloth to rub and massage their gums gently. If they have teeth, use a toothbrush that fits comfortably in their mouth. Very young children should use fluoride-free toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. As soon as children can follow directions, transition to a fluoride toothpaste and slowly increase the size of the toothpaste to about a pea-size. Use floss at least once a day to dislodge visible food particles and invisible bacteria from around the base of each tooth. Encourage your child to swish and spit an antibacterial mouthwash, fluoride rinse, or both when they are old enough to understand they shouldn’t swallow. Fluoride is essential for young children that are developing their tooth enamel. Check whether your city’s water supply offers fluoride in the water and make sure your child drinks plenty.
Habits that Build Strong Teeth
- Drink plenty of water. Saliva is made up of 99% water and plays a huge role in defending the mouth against infections.
- Avoid snacks when possible. It’s best for our teeth to have a chance to strengthen and remineralize throughout the day. Eating and snacking constantly makes it difficult for your teeth to have that chance.
- Plan bi-annual trips to your dentist as early as your child’s first birthday.
- If you let them indulge in sticky or sweet foods, make a habit of only offering them immediately after a meal. A this time your child’s mouth is producing more saliva than usual which will help protect the teeth and wash away sugars.
- After sugary treats or medicines sweetened to go down easier, have your child drink water right away. Then, wait about 30 minutes and then brush your child’s teeth. When teeth are first exposed to sugars it temporarily weakens the enamel. Water can help wash away sugars immediately. Then, after your child’s teeth strengthen back up and remineralize (about 30 minutes), brushing will help remove any stuck-on sugars that would wear on your child’s enamel.
- Avoid letting your child slowly suck on sugary drinks. This is especially important at night. If you offer your child a sippy cup for overnight drinking it should only have water; never soda, juice, milk, or formula.
We would love to help you protect your children’s developing teeth. If you have any concerns or questions don’t hesitate to reach out to us. West One Family Dental has been helping parents in Colorado Springs care for their children’s teeth for over 30 years.