Eat Right: Healthy Snacks and Dental Care Tips for Kids

New JammiesAt New Jammies, we’ve been celebrating National Children’s Dental Health Month in February by eating healthy snacks, avoiding sugary drinks, and making sure to floss, brush and rinse regularly before slipping into our 100% percent organic pajamas at bedtime.

Just as the dentist ordered.

Healthy eating habits and proper oral hygiene are vital to our kids’ overall health. On its website at www.ada.org, the American Dental Association reports that nearly in 1 in 4 children under the age of 5 already have cavities. The solution is to teach kids to eat right and take care of teeth and gums early on in childhood. The ADA recommends parents take their kids to the dentist no later than their first year, followed by intervals as recommended by their dental care professionals.

MyPlate, a website from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, an agency of U.S. Department of Agriculture, suggests a healthy, balanced diet for kids that should include:

• Fruits and vegetables. Combined these should be half of what your child eats every day.
• Grains. Make sure at least half of their grains are whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice.
• Dairy. Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods.
• Lean proteins. Make lean protein choices, such as lean beef, skinless poultry and fish. Try to vary protein choices to include eggs, beans, peas and legumes, too. Eat at least 8 oz. of seafood a week.

National Nutrition MonthMarch is National Nutrition Month, and the theme for 2015 is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle,” which encourages everyone to adopt eating and physical activity plans that are focused on consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices and getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests this reading list for child and teen nutrition.

Along with a nutritious diet, snacking habits, bottles and pacifiers also impact a child’s oral health. These tips to keep your child’s mouth healthy:

• Place only formula, milk or breast milk in bottles. Avoid filling the bottle with liquids such as sugar water, juice or soft drinks.
• Infants should finish their bedtime and naptime bottles before going to bed.
• If your child uses a pacifier, provide one that is clean—don’t dip it in sugar or honey, or put it in your mouth before giving it to the child.
• Encourage children to drink from a cup by their first birthday and discourage frequent or prolonged use of sippy cups.
• Serve nutritious snacks and limit sweets to mealtimes.

More information on the use of sippy cups, and their affect on oral health, including when to start and stop, can be found here.

When it comes to choosing a toothpaste, 3 out of 4 dentists recommend products with the ADA seal, meaning they have been evaluated for safety and effectiveness. Fluoride toothpaste helps remove plaque, a film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums, and strengthens tooth enamel. Plaque can cause gum disease and tooth decay. Some parents prefer organic, fluoride-free natural toothpastes, and there is a debate that surrounds fluoride, as documented in this mom’s personal account.

In choosing the right toothbrush – soft, medium or hard for kids? – look for the ADA seal and ask your dentist for a recommendation. The ADA says both manual and powered toothbrushes effectively and thoroughly clean teeth, but children may find brushing with a powered toothbrush fun. Making brush time enjoyable, rather than a chore, is often key to establishing healthy oral hygiene habits from the start.

This song from a New York dentist and mom is a fun way to encourage brushing amongst kids:

Brushing Teeth Song (Sung to the tune of ‘Frere Jacques’)

(Starting on the upper right (or left) outside teeth and gums)
Brush the outside, brush the outside
Now the front, now the front
Now go to the other side, now go to the other side
Then move on, then move on.

(Moving to the upper right (or left) inside teeth and gums)
Brush the inside, brush the inside.
Now the front, now the front
Now go the other side, now go to the other side
Then move down, then move down.

(Moving the bottom right (or left) outside teeth and gums)
Brush the outside, brush the outside
Now the front, now the front
Now move to the other side, now move to the other side
Then move on, then move on.

(Moving to the bottom right (or left) inside teeth and gums)
Brush the inside, brush the inside
Now the front, now the front
Now move to the other side, now move to the other side
Now you’re done, now you’re done!

3 thoughts on “Eat Right: Healthy Snacks and Dental Care Tips for Kids

  1. Hailey Renee says:

    That is crazy that 1 in 4 children under the age of 5 already have cavities. That is smart to go the dentist to help prevent cavities from occurring by your child first year of age. I like your idea of using fluoride toothpaste to help remove plaque. I’ll have to make sure I practice good dental habits with my kids.

  2. Thank you for the help. My daughter is now just about four months old. I know that I already need to be careful about her oral health and plan her first dentist visit soon. But, I had not heard that she should use a sippy cup for as short of a time as possible. What is the danger of using those cups for too long?

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