The Connection Between Child Diet and Oral Health, Part 1

Dr. David Gustafson

November 10, 2019

When it comes to multiple vital child health areas, diet is one of the top considerations for parents to keep an eye on. Important for everything from general health to oral development and numerous other areas, what your child eats and the early dietary habits you instill play a big role.

At Salt Lake Pediatric Dentistry, we’re here to help you handle every area of your child’s dental services and dental needs, from basic information and expertise on their teeth to recommendations on diet and several other areas. This two-part blog series will go over multiple important areas when it comes to diet and child dental health, from the proper food groups to emphasize to how to handle very young children and their diets.

Child Diet And Oral Development

Not only is a strong diet valuable for overall health, it’s a vital need for proper child oral development. Children must have a balanced diet, not only for healthy tooth development but also for the development of the gums around the teeth. Too many sugars and starches, in particular, may leave your child at a heightened risk of tooth decay and cavities as they age.

Major Food Groups

For children, a healthy diet means one that naturally offers all the major nutrients the child needs to develop properly, both orally and in other areas. It will include each of the major food groups:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Protein Foods
  • Dairy

A proper balance between these groups, with particular emphasis on fruits and vegetables, is very important for young children as their mouths develop.

Major Threats

As we noted above, the biggest risks to your child’s oral health are sugars and starches found in their food. There are many food types here, not just candy and others known for being high in sugar.

Foods with starches include crackers, breads, pasta and various salty snacks. There are also multiple types of sugar out there, including some that are even present in fruits and some vegetables. Sugar will also regularly be added to condiments like salad dressing or ketchup, so you should keep an eye on these areas as well.

Sugar And Starch Removal

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to remove sugar and starch completely from your child’s diet. Rather, be selective in the way you present these items – they should be part of the overall diet, but in the right quantities. A sugary or starchy food is best when it’s eaten as part of a larger meal, for instance, which allows it to be cleared from the mouth by saliva as part of a larger effort. When used as a snack, on the other hand, these items may linger in the mouth and cause buildup issues.

For more on child diet and how it relates to oral health, or to learn about any of our child dental services, speak to the staff at Salt Lake Pediatric Dentistry today.