Nutrition adds bite to teeth development
Nutrition plays an important role in the development and continued health of the teeth and gums. Listed below are some facts and advice for dental-friendly eating.
Fluoride, in the form of drinking water, supplements, toothpaste or rinses, is the major factor responsible for the phenomenal decline we have seen in tooth decay among children during the past 30 years.
All children should receive a routine source of fluoride. Check with your pediatrician or pedodontist regarding the best source of fluoride for your child.
Both the form and frequency of carbohydrates play an important role in acid production. Foods that stick in, around and between the teeth, whether raisins, cornflakes, animal crackers or gumdrops, produce more acid than foods that quickly leave the mouth. Eating sticky foods rich in carbohydrates sets off an acid attack in the mouth, leaving teeth susceptible to erosion and decay.
"Baby bottle tooth decay" is a classic example of how constant exposure of teeth to carbohydrates can result in severe decay. Youngsters who continually suck small amounts of milk, juice or sugared beverages from a bottle, especially throughout the night, often experience significant decay of their baby teeth (and, in extreme cases, damage their erupting permanent teeth).
Foods high in acid also contribute to dental downfall, especially if they are consumed frequently. Sugared soda pop strikes a double blow to teeth with its high-acid and high-sugar content. Even diet pop, rich in phosphoric and citric acids, has been reported to erode teeth when sipped excessively.
Not all foods are foes when it comes to dental health. Researchers have pinpointed certain "protective" foods, which seem to counteract acid-producing bacteria in the mouth. Cheeses, especially the aged varieties, peanuts, eggs, meat and sugarless gum all have been found to neutralize acid in the mouth when consumed close to the time when carbohydrates are eaten. However, this is not suggested as a substitute for brushing teeth.
So, how does a "dental-smart" kid go about avoiding the evils of cavity-producing carbos? The first line of defense is to brush sticky foods out of the teeth. At the very least, rinse mouth with water, take a few bites of cheese or nuts to neutralize acid, or chew sugarless gum. The greatest harm occurs within the first 20 minutes of eating a fermentable carbohydrate, so quick action is needed to combat cavities.