By: Helen Sanders
Everyone wants their children to have healthy gums and sparkling teeth – don’t they? Wanting them is one thing, but are we making sure our kids are eating the right things to have them?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), when diet is less than optimal nutritionally, one of the first areas to suffer is dental health.
So what can we do about this? The best course of action is to look at the entire diet, and identify any nutritional needs that aren’t being met.
But there are some specific foods which have been shown to have impressive benefits when it comes to supporting oral health.
Here are five top foods that you can give your children to snack on to improve the health of your teeth and gums.
#1 – Cheese
Cheese is one of life’s pleasures for many people, including children! So many different types – and there’s a great reason to try them all. Cheese provides many of the nutrients – fats and proteins, vitamins and minerals needed for keeping gums healthy and teeth sparkling.
Popular cheeses like mozzarella and cheddar are rich in calcium and phosphorus which work together to help strengthen teeth enamel and bones.
In addition, cheese has been found to increase saliva production and lower acidity levels in the mouth, making it less comfortable for bacteria and decreasing the risk of tooth decay and cavities (source).
#2 – Apples
This sweet delicious fruit that comes in numerous varieties is a great sweet treat for children. The ADA advises avoiding sweet foods in general.
The fibrous, close packed texture of an apple, however, scrapes against the surfaces in the mouth, stimulates the gums and increases saliva production.
Apples also contain lots of different protective natural chemicals called phytochemicals which can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
In particular, quercetin and the tannins in apples have been proven to inhibit the harmful bacteria Streptococcus mutans and stop them attaching to teeth and gums (source).
#3 – Kefir
Dairy products like yoghurt are generally high in protein and calcium, which are both highly beneficial to teeth and gums. Probiotic dairy produce has the added benefit of good bacteria.
Scientists suggest that good bacteria can help the teeth and gums in a number of ways. They can compete with bad bacteria for food, reducing their numbers, produce antimicrobial chemicals, and boost the immune system, reducing inflammation and tissue damage.
#4 – Milk
Milk has a long association with healthy teeth. Homemade milkshakes using raw fruit with no added sugar make an easy, quick and filling snack.
A cup of whole milk contains a quarter of our daily dose of vitamins D and B2, calcium and phosphorus, it’s high in vitamin B12, selenium and potassium, and has a range of other beneficial nutrients.
Consider using half almond milk and half full fat milk – kids need a regular supply of fats for normal growth and development.
Almond milk is rich in calcium and contains vitamin A, iron and potassium, which help prevent tooth problems by protecting the health of bony tissue. Iron helps teeth by supporting immune system function and ensuring efficient oxygen delivery to all cells (source).
#5 – Carrots
These are a great snack for children. Carrots are sweet tasting and stimulate saliva production. The crunchy texture helps to massage the gums and sweep bacteria off the surface of the teeth.
Carrots are a great source of vitamin A, essential for making saliva. Vitamin A helps to maintain the health of the mucus that coats teeth and gums, helps cleanse the mouth and dispose of bacteria (source).
Children can be picky about what they eat. They can like one thing one day and turn their nose up at it the next. This can make it difficult to maintain good oral health, since diet and nutrition have a huge impact on our teeth and gums.
When the kids are crying out for a snack, it can be easy to snatch the nearest bag of chips. As an alternative, there are some foods that make excellent snacks for keeping your gums healthy and teeth sparkling.
These are just a few of the foods that can contribute to dental health, but one theme is coming through loud and clear – teeth and gums like it raw and natural!
Helen Sanders is chief editor at HealthAmbition.com. Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.
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