Dietary recommendations for the optimal oral health of a child from 2-12 years old.
I have written this article from my 22 years experience as a practising dentist but also from the very practical view of a mother of four young children.
· Limit soft drink, lolly and chocolate intake to special occasions. Much easier with the first child but much harder with subsequent siblings
· The worst lollies are those which are acidic (sours), sticky (Jubes, chews, chips), and sucking lollies (lollipops, barley sugar, mentos etc). If this is difficult to control just don’t buy them, don’t have them in the house.
· Chocolate is the least damaging but should also be kept to a minimum
· Children will and need to graze but the snacks should be healthy (cheese, yoghurt, fruit, vegetables, and nuts) . Unfortunately dried fruits are high in sugar and quite sticky so they should be used like a special treat.
· Water (fluoride containing tap water) should be consumed in-between meals. Juices and milk with meals if necessary.
· A normal healthy child will eat when they are hungry, too much snacking will reduce their appetite for the main meals. Sometimes, I think, there is a lot of emphasis placed on forcing children to eat certain amounts. My children always seemed to be hungry at the worst possible times, it makes snack foods soooo tempting.
· Try and make sure that snacks and meals are eaten while sitting quietly
· Do not use food for comfort or reward. It sends the wrong message to your child about the value of food. Obviously sending a child to bed with a bottle of milk or food is a sure way to create dental issues.
· Pick from the main food groups and use the food pyramid as your guide to ideal intake
· Avoid excessive use of cough lollies (butter menthols) they contain large amounts of sugar
· Be sensible in your own eating, children will imitate you and your habits.
Please take my advice as a guide, I know how difficult it can be. If you are able to get it right most of the time then you will set your child up for the best chance at a healthy mouth. When you know a lot of sugary foods have been eaten make sure that toothbrushing is a priority for that night.
Your dentist should question you about diet especially if there is a high incidence of decay. There are lots of products such as GC mousse, and fluoride that can help in these situations.
If you have any specific questions or topics I haven’t covered please feel free to ask or discuss