7 Must-Know Facts About Kids’ Dental Health

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Disclaimer :: This article is part of an editorial series, “Food Fights,” brought to you by Fort Worth Moms and sponsored by Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry. Follow the “Food Fights” event page for special giveaways, social engagement, and published articles. Join our subscriber list so you don’t miss a moment of “Food Fights” and all Fort Worth Moms has to offer throughout the year.

The Fort Worth Moms team interviewed Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry for the “Food Fights” editorial series to find out if what our kids eat and drink impact their oral health — and a few other questions plaguing our minds.

Fort Worth Children’s Dentistry strives to educate, motivate, and promote good dental health at an early age. The staff knows that when it comes to being a new mom, parent, and caregiver that finding the best provider for your child’s oral health is important. Its team of doctors are all board certified pediatric dentists. Drs. Morrow, Jamison, Beville, and Risner completed four years of dental school as well as an additional two years of pediatric residency. The doctors and staff are prepared for treating all children from infancy through adolescence. As pediatric specialists, they strive to build caring relationships with patients and their families that allow FW Children’s Dentistry to provide exceptional dental care and preventive education in a fun, child-friendly atmosphere.

1) Does food really impact oral health? If so, what foods should kids avoid or eat in moderation? Are there foods that support oral health?

Yes, what you eat and how often you eat food impacts your oral health. The bacteria in our mouth uses sugar in the foods and drinks to make acid. Limit snacking between meals. The more you snack the more acid attacks the teeth. We recommend avoiding chewy and sticky foods. Save sweets and sugary liquids for mealtimes. Always try to eat or introduce a good mix of growing foods. The best thing you can do as a parent is to teach your child to make healthy food choices.

2) And what about drinks? How do drinks impact oral health — positively and negatively?

It’s important to watch what you eat, but what is even more important is watching what liquids they drink. Drinks that are the better choice for kids have little or no sugar. That means they won’t give the bacteria in your mouth a chance to make acid that can damage your child’s teeth.

Some simple dos and don’ts when it comes to drinks: Do drink water, milk, and natural fruit juice in moderation. Don’t drink artificial fruit drinks (artificial fruit drinks can be very deceiving), soft drinks, and sports drinks (even those contain just as much sugar as a can of soda).

Pediatric dentist share seven key facts every parent should know about their kids' dental health3) What about drink containers — sippy cups all the way up to thermo-type containers for school? Do they impact teeth alignment and growth?

Bottle-fed babies should be weaned off the bottle around the age of one. Sippy cups are great because they don’t spill. But, the real purpose of the sippy cup is to help a toddler transition from a bottle to a proper cup. Over time sippy cups can delay the proper formation of oral muscles, alignment of teeth, and the roof of their mouth. When toddlers sip on sippy cups frequently throughout the day they are exposed to excess sugar which could lead to an increase risk to dental and nutritional issues. It is recommended that most toddlers should be weaned from the sippy cup by the age of two and transition to a regular open cup.

4) Any foods that can help extract a loose tooth? Do you recommend using food to help loosen a tooth? Why or why not?  

Primary or “baby” teeth as they are commonly called are needed for more than a beautiful smile. They are used not only for chewing food, but they are also important in speech development. They aid in developing a path for the permanent teeth to follow when they begin to erupt. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommend that children see a dentist by their first birthday. These visits can help find problems early and help kids get used to visiting the dentist. A pediatric dentist can help you identify tooth formation or when your child might be seeing a visit from the tooth fairy. While there isn’t a food recommended by the ADA and AAPD to help extract a tooth, we’ve heard from moms at our practice . . . when it comes to foods . . . that if ever there was a time for laffy taffy, this is it.

5) What foods should a kiddo avoid if they have braces? What foods should they embrace, especially after braces are first put on?

If your child is in braces, foods that you should avoid include:

  • chewy foods — bagels, hard rolls, licorice.
  • crunchy foods — popcorn, ice.
  • sticky foods — caramels, gum.
  • hard foods — nuts, hard pretzels.
  • sugary food — candy.
  • foods you have to bite into — corn on the cob, apples, and carrots.

Ideal foods for those that are in braces include soft foods like mashed potatoes, mashed potatoes, yogurt, soups, scrambled eggs, oatmeal, grains, seafood, soft fruits, soft cheeses, cooked or soft vegetables, moist desserts, and pasta.

The food fights editorial series features 15 food and eating related articles6) What is your recommended oral health routine?

Begin cleaning when the first tooth erupts. Parents can do so with a washcloth or clean finger. Brush teeth twice daily, in the morning and at bedtime or after the last feeding or after medications are administered orally. Follow the rule of twos: Brush for two minutes, two times daily!

7) If a parent is worried oral health issues are impacting her child’s ability to or interest in eating, what should she do? (Think pain, teeth misalignment, tongue tie, etc.)

If you are parent that is worried about your child’s oral health issues, we recommend you contact your child’s dental provider or have your child seen by a board certified pediatric dentists. Board certified pediatric dentists are especially helpful here. Just like you would be seen by a pediatrician for the health of your baby, you would want to be seen by a pediatric dentist for your baby’s dental care. Pediatric dentist are the pediatricians of dentistry. Pediatric dentists know the dental needs for children are specific, and they have specific medical, dental, and emotional requirements. Our office is prepared to treat children from infancy through adolescence, as well as special needs children.

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