8 Tips To Help Your Child Stick to a Smile-Friendly Diet

Give your kid a healthier diet

Teeth-friendly foods are the foundation of your child’s healthy, happy smile.

Every parent’s goal for their child’s smile is to be bright, healthy, and cavity free. Following a great at-home dental care routine and taking them to their pediatric dentist every six months is important for achieving this goal. But don’t forget about one of the most important factors in oral health—a nutritious diet!

The more healthy foods your child eats, the more their oral health will flourish. Healthy eating habits instilled in childhood tend to follow kids through their teenage years and into adulthood.

Here are 8 of our top tips for parents who want to provide their kids with the most smile-friendly diet possible.

1. Look for meals that are rich in calcium, antioxidants, and healthy fats.

Whether you’re looking for a new recipe to try or you’re searching for a healthy, pre-made option, check the nutrition facts! A child’s diet should offer plenty of calcium, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Dairy ingredients usually contain all three things.

2. Base your diet around whole foods first, then see how raw fruits and vegetables can be incorporated.

When planning homemade meals, try to include as many whole foods as possible while limiting the number of processed ingredients. This alone can make a huge impact on your family’s nutritional health. For an added health bonus, add in raw fruits and vegetables to your diet in the form of chopped salads or side dishes. Crunchy produce is great for teeth!

3. Limit daily fruit juice consumption.

Food isn’t the only thing about a diet to pay attention to, it includes drinks. Kids love juice, but unfortunately juice drinks aren’t so kind to their teeth. Juice can be loaded with as much sugar as a soda and contain enamel-harming levels of acidity. Children age 1-7 can have up to 6 fluid ounces of juice per day, whereas kids age 7-18 can have up to 12. Regardless, save juice for mealtimes only.

4. Provide colorful cups and bottles to encourage more water consumption.

The average school-age kid and teenager is dehydrated simply because they aren’t drinking enough water. You can encourage kids to drink more water by providing fun glasses, tumblers, or water bottles they can take around with them. Keep a few designs on hand and rotate between them to keep youngsters interested.

5. Save sweet items for post-dinner desserts rather than offering them as midday snacks.

Completely avoiding sugar is unrealistic (and maybe impossible). A better option is to reduce sugar consumption and time sweet treats for the right moment. Eating something sweet with a meal actually reduces the amount of time the sugar is exposed to your child’s tooth enamel compared to eating a sugary snack in the middle of the day. A post-dinner dessert followed by their bedtime brushing is even better timing.

6. Get your kids involved with meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking or baking.

The more you involve kids in lifestyle changes, the more interested and excited they’ll be to take part. Involving your kids in planning meals, shopping, and cooking is a great way to improve your family bond and teach them important skills they’ll need as they grow older. It also encourages kids to experiment more with the foods they eat and meals they make.

7. Rather than force kids to eat their veggies, change your tactic to offering them some choices.

Kids need to eat their vegetables, but forcing them often backfires. One solution for picky kids is to let them choose what vegetables they might like. This way they are still encouraged to eat healthy food items, but they aren’t feeling forced to eat something they genuinely don’t enjoy.

8. Take time to explain why some foods are good for their teeth and others aren’t.

Use opportunities while grocery shopping, cooking, and sharing meals to teach your kids why the foods they’re eating are healthy. Explaining why some items are teeth-friendly foods and others aren’t. This encourages them to learn more about the foods they eat.

Your child’s dentist is a great source of information on smile-friendly nutrition for kids!

Our Pediatric Dental Specialists team focuses on dental care for kids, which makes us a great resource on teeth-friendly foods. In fact, pediatric dentists have unique knowledge of how certain foods positively or negatively impact a child’s teeth that even a pediatrician or pediatric nutritionist may not be aware of!

You can schedule a time to speak with your child’s pediatric dentist by calling our closest office or filling out this online booking form.