A balanced diet helps your children’s teeth and gums to be healthy. A diet high in natural or added sugars may place your child at extra risk for tooth decay. To learn more, watch the video “Your Diet and Your Teeth”. Watch Video
What is a healthy diet for my child?
A healthy, balanced diet has all the nutrients your child needs to grow and includes the following major food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and dairy.
How can my children’s diet protect their teeth?
First, be sure they’re eating a balanced diet, limiting between-meal snacks and limiting how frequently they have food or beverages with sugar. Sugar is in more than just the sugar bowl and candy. Lots of foods contain one or more types of sugar, and all types of sugars can cause tooth decay. Sugar can be found in lots of processed foods, such as cookies, crackers, cereals and soda. Sugar is also often added in condiments like catsup and salad dressings.
Should my kid give up all foods with sugar?
No way! You simply need to select and serve them wisely. A food with sugar is safer for teeth if it is eaten with a meal, not as a snack. Chewing during a meal helps produce saliva which helps wash away sugary and starchy foods. Sticky foods, like potato chips, raisins and other dried fruit and candy are not easily washed away from your kid’s teeth by saliva, water or milk, so they have more cavity-causing potential. Talk to your dentist about serving foods that protect your kid’s dental health.
Does a balanced diet mean my kid gets enough fluoride?
No. A balanced diet does not guarantee the proper amount of fluoride for the development and maintenance of your kid’s teeth. If you do not live in a community with fluoride in the water or have the right amount of naturally occurring fluoride in your well water, your child may need additional fluoride. Talk to your dentist about your kid’s specific fluoride needs.
A Few More Tips
- Ask your dentist to help you assess your child's diet.
- Shop smart – don’t stock your pantry with sugary snacks
- Limit the number of snack times; choose nutritious snacks like whole fruit and vegetables.
- Give your child a balanced diet and serve a limited amount of foods with sugar at mealtime.
- Don't put your young child to bed with a bottle.
- If your child chews gum, choose sugar-free gum.
- Drink fluoridated water instead of sweetened and/or carbonated drinks.