The importance of healthy eating in children

Dra. Montañés
Specialist in Pediatric Dentistry and Dental Aesthetics.

A proper diet prevents the development of dental and gum disease at any point during our lives. In the case of children, acquiring good eating habits is essential for their development.

The state of oral health is closely linked to nutrition, and therefore determines the development of those “dreaded” cavities. They are one of the main public health issues on a global scale, as well as being the most prevalent childhood disease.

Which foods are ok and beneficial for teeth?

There are a number of foods that help to prevent cavities; fatty foods or foods high in protein, calcium and fluoride help to reduce the retention of sugars and bacterial plaque, producing a toxic environment for bacteria that cause cavities, increasing the capacity of the buffering effect of saliva, protecting the enamel.

Another type of food with these protective qualities are those that stimulate the flow of saliva, thus promoting the remineralization of the enamel. Xylitol for example, can be found in some chewing gums and is a sugar substitute that reduces the formation of plaque and the growth of bacteria, as well as preventing the demineralization of the enamel.

There are also foods that actively protect the gums, which are a key part of our mouth and help to support our teeth. It is therefore very important that we care for them, too.

As we aim to promote good nutrition and oral health, it is essential that we give our patients a series of tips about maintaining a healthy diet:

Reduce the amount of exposure to or intake of sucrose and sweetened products, especially before going to sleep.
Substitute sucrose with of non-cavity-causing sweeteners.
Avoid snacking between meals and reduce consumption of sticky, gooey foods.
Avoid, as much as possible, acidogenic foods: crisps, milk chocolate, filled biscuits, sweetened dried fruits, dates, etc.
Increase consumption of foods from plants, like fresh fruit and wholegrain cereals
Promote the use of Xylitol in chewing gum.
Drink water to prevent dehydration: 6-8 glasses per day.
All of this should be complemented by frequent visits to the dentist, at least twice a year, as well as good oral hygiene.

Nutrition and oral health are inseparable. From infancy, it is important to promote good foods that are also beneficial for the teeth, alongside a varied and balanced diet. A healthy diet in children will help maintain their overall oral health.

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