February is National Children’s Health Month, so I wanted to write about the factor in children’s lives that is probably more important to early children’s dental health than teeth cleaning! I bet you can guess what that is: Nutrition. Even before children are old enough to brush their teeth, nutrition plays a crucial role in teeth development and the prevention of cavities. Of course, we must never forget to diligently train and help a child to have excellent oral hygiene. At Delaware Child Development, we practice teeth brushing every day in each class. However, brushing is really the second defense against cavities. Nutrition comes first, even from birth!
Sugary foods pose a problem for teeth for two reasons. Sugar not only aids bacteria growth in the mouth, but it also depletes the body of nutrients as well. Nutrients and minerals make healthy, strong teeth. So, when children eat too much sugar, even if they brush afterward to prevent bacteria in the mouth, their body is still losing valuable nutrients that would have added strength and wellness to the teeth as well as to all the other functions and systems of the body.
Natural sugars that exist in fruits, root vegetables, and other natural foods are not a problem because they include vitamins and minerals. The body gets the added minerals right in the same naturally sugary foods that the body is processing.
Processed sugar intake has been linked to losses of Vitamins C, D, B Vitamins, Magnesium, Calcium, and Chromium—all important nutrients. Eating lots of processed sugars does more damage to our health than may be obvious. Vitamins D, Magnesium, and Calcium are each needed for healthy teeth. Vitamins C and D are associated with healthy immunities, C and B Vitamins are linked to healthy skin, and Chromium aids in regulating healthy blood sugar.
Processed foods, such as cereals and packaged snacks, also decrease nutrition because the processing cooks many vitamins out of the foods. Even when those foods are fortified, it is with synthetic vitamins which are harder for the body to absorb and benefit from. So, eating as many natural, home-cooked foods as possible is a huge benefit to nutrition. Foods like home-cooked beans and vegetables, as well as sprouted grains and a variety of fresh fruits will aid your child’s nutrient levels.
It’s fun to eat some processed and sugary foods once in a while, and your child can convert that sugar into valuable energy. Just make sure that most of the time you and your family are eating natural, home-cooked vegetables and grains, and fresh fruit!