When it comes to building healthy habits, it’s never too early to guide kids to the path they should go. A study by Brown University found that habits and routines in children usually start and take root by the age of nine, so parents would be wise to instill in their kids a lifestyle that will help them steward their gums and teeth well.
Emergency trips to the dentist might be inevitable while the kids are growing up. Still, it is also parents’ responsibility to help kids form habits that necessitate yearly visits to the dentist for routine cleaning and check-ups.
But first, here are some basic food facts every parent needs to know.
- The bacteria in our mouths are particularly fond of starchy and sugary foods, which means these are the kinds of ingredients that can cause gum disease and tooth decay. The human mouth is a battleground, which means you need to start training your kids to love and prefer healthier food options. The earlier, the better.
- Whether we like it or not, our eating habits significantly impact our dental and oral health. Research shows significant associations between poor eating habits and tooth decay. If we want our family members to have healthy teeth and gums, we need to create a diet consisting of meals and ingredients that strengthen these parts of our bodies.
It’s never too early to maintain your children’s dental and oral health and help them build healthy lifelong habits. Here are some food and nutrition tips to keep their teeth and gums strong and healthy.
This may sound like a dull first tip, but water is by far the healthiest and almost available drink for our kids and us. Since our bodies are made up of 60 percent water, we need to keep ourselves properly hydrated to ensure that our body gets rid of toxins and waste, that skin develops a healthy and radiant glow, and that our muscles continue to strengthen and move. Drinking water, especially water with fluoride, is a natural way to defeat cavities, and it helps wash away remaining food particles in our mouth as well.
This is how much water your kids should be drinking every day, according to their age:
- One to three years old: four cups of water
- Four to eight years old: five cups of water
- Nine years and older: seven to eight cups of water
To get your kids to drink more water, invest in some cute tumblers with reminders on the label, so they can build the habit of water-drinking without you reminding them. Choose their favorite colors or cartoon characters, so they can truly embrace the tumbler as theirs.
Here are some dairy foods that are good for your kids’ dental and oral health:
- Cheese is high in calcium and low in sugar, which instantly makes it a good candidate for your kids’ diet plan. Cheese also contains casein, a protein known for fortifying the enamel in our teeth, so find ways to incorporate some cheese into your kids’ diet.
- Milk and yogurt are also rich in calcium and can help decrease acid levels in our mouths. Acid is one of the greatest enemies of the health of our teeth, so anything that can help balance the pH in our children’s mouths is always welcome.
Green and leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, and kale are also rich in calcium and other nutritional properties like folic acid. Our teeth and gums love the vitamins and minerals that are carried by these specific vegetables, so make sure to create some sandwiches and salads with these crunchy greens as the star of the show. If you add the types of dressings and salads that your kids love, they will create a habit of eating healthy salads as young as they are.
Here are some other ingredients and superfoods you can integrate into your kids’ meal plans:
- Pears and apples
- Fatty fish and most meats
- Raisins and cranberries, but make sure they are fresh and sugar-free
- Strawberries and other berries that are rich in vitamin C
- Sweet potatoes
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Whole grains
Like everything in life, balance is always key. Explore different recipes and meals you can conjure up through these ingredients and mix them up from time to time so that your kids never get bored. If you start them young, they will grow up loving healthy foods with a palate that enjoys flavors and ingredients that are healthy for them. It’s the path of most resistance, but the results are worth it.