As parents, we often struggle to feed our kids healthy foods, especially picky baby and toddlers.  While we often focus on foods that are good for their overall health and nutrition, we must also consider snack and food options that contribute to their dental health.

DRINKS: When it comes to drinks, milk and water are ideal. If your child wants juice, try to limit to one 4-6 oz. serving with a meal. Another option is to pour only half juice and the rest water – this will cut their sugar intake by half and leave less sugar remnants on the teeth and gums. Although sippy cups can seem like the greatest invention on earth, be careful not to allow a child to slowly consume milk or juice from their sippy throughout the day.  It is best for a child to “chug” their fluids, outside of water.  Sipping for a long period of time will leave residue in the mouth and around the teeth, and will be harmful to little teeth down the road.

SNACKS: Avoid sticky snacks as much as possible, such as dried fruits, fruit snacks and leathers, gummy vitamins, etc. If your child does indulge in a sticky treat, follow with a prompt brushing. While it may seem like your children are always hungry, at times try to avoid allowing little ones to graze. It is best to limit healthy snack times to a few per day, rather than munching on Goldfish and crackers once here, and another there, turing into an all day snack fest! Not only is what your child eats important, but the frequency and duration they consume is equally impactful.

Alternatively, there are lots of great food kids should eat often. Dairy products can fight plaque and contain calcium, strengthening teeth. Cheese sticks are a great snack food that can help cut the risk for cavities. Citrus fruits stimulate saliva production, which can help give the mouth a little shower.  And water is the best drink of all – good for their bodies and for their teeth.

Moderation is key. Establish good habits early on and your family will have plenty of reasons to smile.

By Dr. Ozzie Jafarnia, DDS.  Dr. A. Ozzie Jafarnia, or “Dr. Ozzie” as she is known to her patients grew up in the East Bay, and is proud to be Danville’s only American Board of Pediatric Dentistry certified dentist. She currently works at Danville Pediatric Dentistry located at 4145 Blackhawk Plaza Cir, Ste 203, Danville, Ca (925) 837-7745.