National Nutrition Month is an annual campaign in March created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics aimed toward educating and informing the public on how to make healthy food choices and to pay special attention to what goes into our bodies.
It’s no surprise that the food and drink you put in your mouth affects your oral health. They have a direct effect on the health of your teeth and specifically on tooth decay. Bacteria rely on carbohydrates to thrive. That is why the pediatric dentists at Alameda Pediatric Dentistry tell our patients to cut back on both candy and sweets. They consist of simple sugars that feed the bacteria in your mouth and can promote tooth decay.
And be on the lookout for hidden sugars! Get in the habit of reading labels on food and looking for products with added sugar. This includes ingredients that end with the suffix “ose.” When it comes to nutrition, these foods offer little value beyond satisfying that sweet tooth.
Sugars, carbohydrates, and starches in a diet promote the accumulation of plaque, while foods and drinks high in acid will wear away tooth enamel. When plaque acids wear away at enamel, teeth are more prone to staining, tooth sensitivity, and cavities. Additionally, studies show that eating foods high in dietary fiber can help fight tooth decay and may even help reduce gum disease.
Other things to consider are food and drink consistency and color. For consistency, avoid foods that are too hard and may chip teeth, be wary of crunchy foods that can get trapped between teeth, and sticky foods that stay on teeth. For color, avoid having too many drinks such as sugary juices and colas that may tint teeth if not tended to properly.
WHAT KIDS (AND ADULTS!) SHOULD EAT
Give your children foods that not only taste good but are good for their teeth too. Dairy products, for example, provide the body with nutritional items that support tooth enamel. Foods high in protein feature phosphorus, a nutrient critical to oral health.
Fruits and vegetables make for a colorful plate and a healthy meal. As is turns out, an apple a day might actually keep the dentist at bay outside of their regular pediatric dental appointments! But use some caution with acidic fruits like oranges or even tomatoes, because the acid can erode tooth enamel. It is better to include these foods in a meal instead of eating them by themselves.
Remember, good nutrition is something you should pay attention to all year long, not just during National Nutrition Month. March just serves as a fun reminder that eating right is a proactive step in managing your child’s dental health.
Teaching your children about healthy food choices can keep their teeth and gums happy and healthy. To learn more about healthy food choices for oral health, ask one our pediatric dentists at Alameda Pediatric Dentistry or visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.