The temporary lifespan of baby teeth hardly makes them unimportant – quite the opposite, actually.
By the time they fall out, a healthy set will have established the even spacing permanent teeth need to erupt in an even alignment.
Just as importantly, poor dental hygiene and nutrition due to excessive sugar, carbohydrates and starches lingering on enamel can quickly lead to tooth decay and gum ailments. Nurturing healthy baby teeth is about a much bigger picture than oral health itself. The choices you make for your infant or toddler in the first two years will shape early eating habits and choices to follow.
Keeping between-meal snacks to a minimum frequency and quantity is as important as strictly regulating the quality of the menu – one or two per day, max. Saliva needs time between meals to naturally clear food particles from baby teeth before bacteria can begin feasting. Always follow snacking with immediate brushing before harmful microorganisms can gain a foothold to develop plaque and fuel tooth decay.
If you’re going to serve sugary treats, limit them strictly to accompanying meals and avoid lollipops, hard candies, mints, cough drops, and other choices that can cause decay by sticking to teeth. The increased saliva production that follows a full meal, along with a mealtime beverage, more easily washes away stubborn sugar before decay can set in on baby teeth enamel. In fact, we strongly recommend also avoiding dried figs, raisins, granola bars, oatmeal and other chewy, sticky foods – even seemingly healthier foods – and always following these snacks with brushing.
Speaking of beverages, try to stick to plain water with meals as often as possible and limit juices, sodas, and even milk. All of the latter contain excesses of sugar, while water handily rinses away clinging food particles without harming teeth in the process. Finally, never provide your baby with milk, formula, juice or soda in a bedtime bottle.
By all means, give these sweet, savory and nutrient-packed foods a chance to build better teeth for your baby. If you need a few more great ideas, your trusted family dentist can surely offer a few more suggestions that will start your child’s nutrition off on the right foot as early as possible.