Diet And Oral Hygiene

Bowl of Fruit


Diet and oral hygiene go hand-in-hand since many of the foods and beverages that your child enjoys can affect their teeth.  Sipping on sugary foods and drinks, including sports drinks, sodas, sweetened teas and energy drinks can damage your teeth.  Even snacking on healthy foods like oranges and dried fruits all day can raise your risk of tooth erosion and cavities.

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth.  The bacteria in plaque create acid from eating the sugars found in your food and drink.  This acid attacks tooth enamel and remains for up to 20 minutes after eating or drinking.  Eventually your enamel can wear away from these acids and a cavity starts to form. Cavities do not go away on their own and must be treated by a dentist.

Lower your risk of getting cavities by modifying your daily habits. When you have sugary foods or drinks many times a day, it exposes the enamel of your teeth to acid attacks throughout the day. This raises your risk of tooth erosion and getting cavities. Thus avoid sugary drinks when possible and limit snacks between meals. If you have sugary foods and drinks, have them with meals. Saliva increases during meals which helps weaken acid and rinse bits of food from your mouth. Chew sugarless gum that contains xylitol. Sugar-free gum and candies that contain xylitol have the side effect of increasing saliva flow and reducing cavities by killing the bacteria in the mouth that cause tooth decay. Instead of all those sugary drinks, drink tap water that contains fluoride. Fluoride helps kill the bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities and make the teeth stronger. Also be sure to see your dentist for your regular 6 month checkups. 

Tooth decay prevention is key to a healthy mouth and body. The same dental plaque that is found in the mouth is also found in your arteries, blood vessels and your brain. Having a healthy mouth has been proven to reflect a healthy body inside. The mouth is truly a window into the health of the body. It can show if you are not eating foods that are best for you or you may be at risk for disease. Diseases that affect the entire body such as diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases, and cancer. These may be noticed because of mouth problems.

A healthy diet keeps your mouth healthy. Eating a well-balanced diet may improve your chances of avoiding diseases like heart disease, type II diabetes and oral diseases, like cavities. For teeth to be healthy, they need daily vitamins, protein, calcium, and phosphorus. You can get them all from a healthy diet.

Diet and Oral Hygiene Q & A

Why are diet and oral hygiene important?
Teeth are very durable bony structures, but because they’re prone to decay, it’s important to teach your child what to eat and drink—and what to avoid—to keep their teeth, gums, and bones healthy. Proper diet and oral hygiene are essential to:

  • Prevent decay and cavities
  • Provide nutrients for tooth development
  • Minimize damage, including fractures

The sooner you get your child started on proper diet and good oral hygiene habits, the more likely they are to have a lifetime of optimal oral health with few to no cavities.

How can a dentist help my child improve their oral hygiene?
When you visit Pettinato Children's Dentistry for a diet and oral hygiene counseling session, your dedicated pediatric dentist sits and talks with you about your child’s diet and daily routine. They make suggestions and teach you about ways you can help your child preserve their oral health.

Your dentist may recommend:

  • Limiting soft drink or juice intakes to minimize the risk of decay
  • Serving plenty of fresh fruits and veggies (they act as natural scrubbers)
  • Providing calcium-rich dairy foods to promote strong teeth

For infants, it’s important to encourage drinking from a cup—not a sippy cup—by their first birthday to prevent abnormal teeth development and crooked teeth. These are just some of the helpful tips your dentist at Pettinato Children's Dentistry teaches you about during your appointment.

When should I talk to my child about diet and oral hygiene?
It’s never too soon to get your little one started on healthful diet choices and good oral hygiene habits. Your child should visit Pettinato Children's Dentistry for their very first dental exam around the time their first tooth erupts and no later than their first birthday.

During your visit with your pediatric dentist, they teach you about age-appropriate things you can do for your child and even show your child how to brush and floss properly.

Learn more about the importance of diet and oral hygiene by booking a pediatric exam at Pettinato Children's Dentistry today. You can schedule either online or over the phone.

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