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Best Foods for Your Teeth

By Jill Feilmeier on August 20, 2013 in Kid's Health

Little girl with a bowl of vegetables

The foods that your children eat have a direct impact on their overall health and more surprisingly, the health of their teeth and gums.

If your children are in the habit of eating junk food daily, it's not very fair to expect them to have healthy teeth. Remember, tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease in the US, and researchers have traced it to the increased consumption of junk foods, sugary snacks, carbonated drinks, and sodas among children.

But, the good news is that tooth decay is nearly 100% preventable. All you have to do is get your children to eat good foods and follow a strict dental care routine. So, what are the best foods for your child's teeth? Here are a few:

• Encourage your children to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, especially those with high water content, such as apples, pears, melons, celery, and cucumbers. These minimize the effects of the sugars in them and trigger the flow of saliva that helps to wash away food particles.

• Milk, nuts, and lean meats such as chicken strengthen the tooth enamel, thanks to the calcium and phosphorous present in them. Don't forget about spinach and yogurt are great sources of calcium.

• Give your children cheese, especially cheddar, which triggers the flow of saliva and helps wash food particles away from teeth.

• The best beverage choice for your children is water (especially fluoridated water). Avoid fizzy juices and sodas at all costs.

• If you have to buy junk food, buy sugar-free or unsweetened foods.

Since your children are starting school, it is important to remind them to keep up their healthy eating habits at school too. Here are a few tips for healthy lunches for your kids:

• Think food groups. Your child's lunch box should contain items from three food groups—the whole grain group, the dairy group, and the fruit and vegetables group.

• Don't forget protein! Growing children need protein. In fact, balancing protein and complex carbohydrates is important for brain function. You can try peanut butter on wholegrain bread or lean turkey and cheese on bread.

• Fruits and vegetables are a must. Let your innovative thinking run wild here. Most children don't choose fruits and vegetables as their favorite food group, especially when they have been packed in a closed container for a few hours. Try some good-to-look-at veggies like star shaped cucumbers, and hamburgers stuffed with veggies. A great lunchtime snack is a pack of baby carrots with a yogurt-based dip.

What's in your kid's lunchbox this week?