How can I keep my child's teeth healthy?

Here are some tips for choosing foods that are more healthy for your child’s teeth:

Keep fruits and vegetables in your house to offer as "healthy snacks" instead of carbohydrates

Choose fruits and vegetables that contain a high volume of water, such as pears, melons, celery and cucumbers. Limit bananas and raisins, as these contain concentrated sugar. You should brush immediately after these fruits are eaten.

Serve cheese with lunch or as a snack

Cheese, especially cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss, and other aged cheeses, help to trigger the flow of saliva, which helps wash food particles away from teeth.

Avoid sticky, chewy foods

Raisins, dried figs, granola bars, oatmeal or peanut butter cookies, jelly beans, caramel, honey, molasses and syrup stick to teeth, making it difficult for saliva to wash away. If your child consumes these types of products, have them brush their teeth immediately after eating.

Serve sugary treats with meals, not as snacks

If you plan to give your child any sweets, give them as desserts immediately following the meal. There’s usually an increased amount of saliva in the mouth around mealtime, making it easier to wash food away from teeth. The mealtime beverage also helps to wash away food particles on teeth.

Get your children in the habit of eating as few snacks as possible

The frequency of snacking is far more important than the quantity consumed. Time between meals allows saliva to wash away food particles that bacteria would otherwise feast on. Frequent snacking, without brushing immediately afterwards, provides constant fuel to feed bacteria, which leads to plaque development and tooth decay. Try to limit snacks as much as possible and to no more than one or two a day. Brush teeth immediately after consuming the snack, if possible.

Never put your baby to bed with a bottle filled with milk, formula, juice or soda

If your baby needs a bottle at bedtime, fill it with plain water.

Offer your child plain water instead of juice or soda

Juices, sodas and even milk contain sugar. Water does not harm the teeth and aids in washing away any food particles that may be clinging to teeth.

Include good sources of calcium in your child’s diet to build strong teeth

Good sources include milk, broccoli and yogurt.