5 Dietary Recommendations to Prevent Cavities in Children

There are many ways to take care of your children's mouth. Find out about these food recommendations to prevent cavities in children.
5 Dietary Recommendations to Prevent Cavities in Children

Last update: 23 April, 2022

Many know about the damage that sweets and treats cause to the teeth. But is it possible to prevent cavities in children if we follow certain dietary recommendations?

The truth is that in order to avoid the destruction of the teeth, it’s important to care for them in a number of ways, as cavities are a multifactorial disease. So, paying attention to all the conditions that favor the appearance of cavities reduces the risk of suffering from them.

Cavities are spots and holes on tooth enamel caused by the loss of its natural minerals. This is produced by the action of acids that arise from the metabolism of sugars in the diet.

Therefore, some of the foods we eat can favor the development, proliferation, and multiplication of germs that convert sugars into acids. And with this, increase the destruction of dental pieces.

At the same time, other foods can cause the bacteria to lack the substrate they need to survive and for this reason, we recommend you implement these dietary measures to prevent cavities in children.

1. Include foods that are rich in calcium

During childhood, teeth and bones are in full growth and development. Providing sufficient sources of calcium helps these structures form properly and future structural diseases are prevented.

Therefore, the presence of calcium in the diet is one of the dietary recommendations that help prevent cavities in children. Teeth with well-developed tissues and without abnormalities in their composition are less susceptible to the disease.

Here are some calcium-rich foods to offer children:

Milk provides calcium and also helps to alkalinize the oral pH. This decreases the concentration of acids available to bacteria in the mouth.

It’s important that in the event that the little ones consume milk in a bottle, the addition of sugar, honey, or other sweetening substances is avoided. Also, it’s key that the child doesn’t fall asleep or stay for a long time with the nipple in their mouth, as these factors favor the development of early childhood cavities.

On the other hand, yogurts are particularly beneficial, as in addition to providing calcium, they contain bacteria that exert positive actions for health, including oral health.

Natural yogurts are considered to be of better quality than commercial ones because, in addition to probiotics, they contain added sugar and this isn’t good.

Cheese is another calcium-rich food that could protect tooth surfaces and prevent demineralization. According to a recent study, incorporating casein (a protein found in cheese) in the diet decreases bacterial growth and favors the remineralization of teeth.

A young boy drinking a glass of milk.
Dairy products are sources of fat, calcium, vitamins, and proteins of high biological value. Therefore, they must be present in the stage of child growth.

2. Ensure a good fiber intake to prevent cavities in children

Offering children products that are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates is another dietary recommendation to prevent cavities in children. In addition, they’re beneficial for other aspects of the health of little ones.

Being foods that require more work when chewing, they stimulate the production of saliva. And this oral fluid acts as a protective barrier that cleans tooth surfaces and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria.

Fiber can be found in greens, vegetables, and fruits. It can also be found in cereals, such as oatmeal and brown rice, and in legumes such as lentils, peas, and beans.

Having raw fruits and vegetables available at home is a good option to offer healthy snacks to your little ones.

Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains, but not in their refined counterparts. These are rich in vitamins, iron, and other trace elements that protect the gums. They also provide magnesium which, together with calcium, ensures the proper development of bones and teeth.

3. Provide adequate protein intake to care for teeth

Giving children protein foods is essential, as they’re going through a stage of great growth. These nutrients contribute to the processes of mineralization and pH neutralization.

Offering poultry, fish, and eggs is a way to give little ones the protein they need. In addition, these products contain minerals, vitamins, and calcium, which also favor demineralization and thereby prevent cavities.

4. Limit the intake of sweets

Products with a high sugar content are the most harmful to oral health, as it’s the substance that bacteria in the mouth take advantage of to multiply and generate harmful acids.

Therefore, although tempting and delicious, sweets, candies, chocolates, and pastries are the most harmful products for teeth. And within these, the stickiest options, which adhere to dental surfaces, are the most damaging.

Avoiding these simple sugar-packed products would be ideal, but if offered responsibly, kids can indulge once in a while.

Therefore, if you choose to give sweets to children, it’s best to do it occasionally. Leave them for birthday celebrations, parties, or important events. They shouldn’t be products of habitual consumption. In addition, it’s best to offer them at mealtimes and spread throughout the day.

When choosing, it’s preferable to opt for chocolates or bonbons that dissolve faster and don’t produce a sugary medium for a long time. At the same time, avoid lollipops or hard candies that stay in your mouth for a long time.

Sticky candies, like chewy and gummy candies, stick to tooth surfaces and can stay there for long periods of time. And the bacteria will know how to take advantage of this.

Another important dietary recommendation to help prevent cavities in children is to avoid dipping the nipple of the bottle or pacifier in sugar or honey. Sweeteners and soft drinks should also not be added to baby bottles, as these practices increase the risk of early childhood cavities.

5. Always opt for water as your preferred drink

Drinking water is the best option for kids to stay hydrated. Consuming it frequently helps the correct growth and avoids other problems.

At the oral level, drinking plenty of water maintains adequate saliva production and prevents dry mouth. As we already told you, this fluid plays a very important role when it comes to preventing cavities.

Furthermore, if possible, your child’s drinking water should contain fluoride. In some countries, this is a public health practice to guarantee access to this element for the entire population. In these cases, with the simple act of hydration, this mineral is incorporated, which protects the dental surfaces against cavities.

And with regard to drinks, avoiding or reducing the consumption of soft drinks, juices, and carbonated drinks is another dietary recommendation that helps prevent cavities in children. These are very sweet and acidic liquids that favor the proliferation of bacteria, adhere to the teeth, and contribute to their destruction.

As with sweets, if you choose to offer this type of drink to children, it should be done occasionally. And on a day-to-day basis, it’s best for the little ones to drink water.

It’s also preferable for children to use a straw when drinking these products in order to reduce contact with dental surfaces. And as we already mentioned, bottles should not be filled with these types of drinks either.

A boy drinking water because he's sweating a lot.
Water is the best drink you can choose and should always be prioritized. Not only does it hydrate us, but it also favors the proper development and functioning of the body.

Complement with other habits

Taking care of the diet is a very important factor when it comes to preventing cavities. But it’s not the only thing to consider.

It’s also crucial to take care of tooth brushing in order to remove bacterial plaque. Adults are responsible for cleaning their little ones’ mouths until they can do it for themselves, which is between the ages of 6 and 8.

As soon as the teeth appear in the mouth of babies, it’s time to start brushing them. Using a child’s toothbrush and the right dose of fluoride toothpaste helps keep their mouth clean.

As more teeth appear, adding floss to your oral hygiene routine will be invaluable. This tool allows you to clean the areas where the dental pieces contact each other.

Finally, it’s also essential to visit the pediatric dentist on a regular basis. Dental check-ups should start from the baby’s first year and continue every 6 months.

The professional helps monitor the growth of the jaws and tooth eruption. And if a problem does appear, it can be detected and treated early for the best benefit of the children. In addition, the expert offers the necessary advice to take care of your little one’s mouth with the advice that best suits their case.

Healthy eating in childhood

Giving children a varied, nutritious, and healthy diet is key to their correct growth and development. Not being aware of the importance of the food we give our children increases the risk that they’ll suffer multiple diseases, including cavities.

“…it’s not just about getting kids to eat enough; it’s all about getting them to eat the right foods.”

-UNICEF-

With these food recommendations, you can prevent cavities in your children. But also, you’ll be teaching them to eat responsibly and in a healthy way, something that will bring many benefits to their overall health.

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