As your child grows older and ingests a wider variety of foods and drinks, you may become increasingly concerned about the effects that their diet may have on their dental health. Here are a few measures that you can take to help ensure that your little one's diet promotes strong, healthy teeth as they grow.
Wean Them As Soon As Possible
As your baby enters toddlerhood, they may be hesitant to drink from a cup. However, although drinking from a bottle may be comforting, it can also be damaging to the teeth. Bottle-drinking is associated with a dental condition called baby bottle decay.
The effects of baby bottle decay can be so bad that the teeth may turn black from the condition. The use of the bottle promotes the decay because of the amount of time that the bottle's contents remain in the mouth.
Many children consume milk or juice from their bottles. The liquid enters the mouth slowly and remains on the teeth for a longer period than it would if the child drank from a cup. Also, since many parents give their kids bottles at bedtime to help soothe them to sleep, the liquid may still enter the mouth even after a child falls asleep.
As a child sleeps, their normal swallowing reflex relaxes. This relaxation causes liquids from a bottle to accumulate in the mouth and rest on the teeth. The bacteria in the little one's mouth consume the simple sugars from the child's drink and release digestive waste, including acids that demineralize the tooth enamel to cause decay.
Pack Their School Lunch From Home
Although the lunches provided by many schools are considered nutritious, they may include sugary or starchy items that promote decay. By preparing your youngster's lunches at home, you can help ensure that teeth-healthy items are included, such as fresh, crunchy fruits and vegetables. Eating fresh produce, such as apples and celery, helps to scrub plaque from the teeth as the child chews.
Also, drinks that don't promote decay, such as bottled water, can be included in the lunches to help rinse debris from the mouth and dilute oral acids after meals. Parents can avoid the inclusion of chips and other overly processed items that offer little nutritional value but provide simple sugars that feed oral microbes.
To learn more ways to promote good oral health as your child grows older, schedule an appointment at a family dental clinic in your local area.