Nutrition for Oral Health

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Building Strong Smiles with Healthy Choices

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The Importance of Nutrition for Oral Health

Did you know that what your child eats has a profound effect on their oral health? Even with good oral hygiene, bi-annual dental cleanings, and ongoing care and maintenance, your child’s teeth could still be at risk if they’re eating the wrong foods.

Since your child’s teeth are changing into the smile they’ll have for the rest of their life, it’s particularly important that they are eating food that is good for their oral health.

Avoiding food that accelerates tooth decay and other oral health issues is a must.

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How Diet Affects Dental Health

  • Tooth Development: During childhood, teeth are still developing. Adequate intake of essential nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D is crucial for the proper development and mineralization of teeth.
  • Enamel Strength: The strength of tooth enamel, the outermost layer of teeth, depends significantly on a diet rich in minerals. Enamel is the first line of defense against cavities and decay, and it requires adequate nutrition to remain strong and resilient.
  • Saliva Production: Saliva plays a vital role in maintaining oral health by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, washing away food particles, and providing disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth. Certain foods can promote saliva production, aiding in the protection against tooth decay.

What Foods Promote a Healthy Smile?

The right diet can significantly impact your child’s oral health by providing the necessary nutrients for strong teeth and gums. Encourage a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals to promote overall dental well-being.

Foods to Avoid for Dental Health

  • Sugary foods and beverages: These can lead to tooth decay as bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar and produce acids that wear down enamel.
  • Fermentable carbohydrates: Found in sugary and starchy foods like candies, cookies, and chips, these carbohydrates break down in the mouth and accelerate tooth decay.
  • Acidic drinks: Sodas, energy drinks, and fruit juices can erode enamel and increase the risk of cavities.
  • Sticky snacks: Foods like raisins and gummy candies cling to teeth and prolong exposure to sugar and acids.

Foods to Encourage for Strong Teeth

  • Dairy products: Milk, cheese, and yogurt are high in calcium and phosphates, which strengthen tooth enamel.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Crunchy produce like apples and carrots stimulate saliva production, which helps wash away food particles and neutralize acids.
  • Water: Essential for maintaining saliva flow, which helps protect against tooth decay and gum disease. Limit other drinks to only at meal times.
  • Nuts and seeds: These are good sources of protein and healthy fats, which support overall oral health and help repair tooth enamel.
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Tips for Parents to Support Their Child’s Oral Health

Helping your child maintain a healthy diet is critical to oral health. Here are some practical tips for parents:

  • Read nutrition labels: Look out for hidden sugars in foods and drinks. Four grams of sugar is equivalent to one teaspoon of table sugar.
  • Monitor snacking habits: Encourage regular meals and limit constant snacking to reduce the risk of tooth decay.
  • Promote whole foods: Focus on providing real, whole foods and avoid highly processed items that are often high in sugar and starches.
  • Set a good example: Children are more likely to follow healthy eating habits if they see their parents doing the same.
  • Stay hydrated: Encourage your child to drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain good oral health.

Encourage your child to eat real, whole foods as much as possible. Avoid or limit foods that were made in a factory as much as you can. Filling your grocery cart with foods primarily from the perimeter of the grocery store and with foods that your grandparents would recognize are good guidelines to follow.

Our Services

Dental Exams

We work with you to develop a unique treatment plan to ensure your child’s teeth develop healthily. Our dental exams include:

  • Orthodontic assessments
  • Dental x-rays
  • Evaluation for disease, infection, gum disease, and tooth decay

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Dental Cleanings

Proper dental development requires more than just brushing and flossing. We recommend two dental cleanings a year. During your child’s dental cleaning, we’ll:

  • Remove all plaque deposits
  • Polish and remove stains and rough areas

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Restorative Care

Despite good brushing and flossing habits, tooth decay can still develop. We offer restorative care services to help restore your child’s bright smile, including:

  • Composite & amalgam fillings
  • Crowns & bridges
  • Other minimally-invasive treatment options

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Ongoing Care & Maintenance

Early identification of issues with your child’s teeth allows for more effective treatment. Our ongoing care plan includes:

  • Regular cleanings and exams
  • Dental x-rays
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Consultations with our experienced dentists

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What Our Patients Say

“We always have a great experience at Children’s Dentistry! My daughter is nervous coming to the dentist, but Arianna always makes it such a great experience for her and talks her through everything!”

– Megan V.

Call Children’s Dentistry of Charlottesville at (434) 817-1817 or contact us online to learn more about how dental exams can help your child.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nutrition and Oral Health

Sugar feeds the bacteria in your child’s mouth, which produce acids that erode tooth enamel and cause cavities. Limiting sugary foods and drinks can help prevent tooth decay.

Yes, snacks like cheese, yogurt, fruits like apples and carrots, and nuts are great for dental health. These foods promote saliva production and provide essential nutrients for strong teeth.

Read nutrition labels to identify hidden sugars, limit sugary snacks and drinks, and encourage whole foods. Opt for water over sugary beverages and choose snacks like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.

No, a balanced diet complements but does not replace the need for brushing and flossing. Good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining oral health.

Encourage your child to drink water throughout the day, especially after meals and snacks, to help wash away food particles and neutralize acids in the mouth. Limit other drinks to only at meal times.

Look for signs like frequent cavities, tooth sensitivity, and visible decay. If you notice any of these, it may be time to reassess your child’s diet and consult with a dentist.

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