Toddler Wars: Toothbrushing

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Let’s face it – getting your toddler to brush their teeth can be a trying chore. They want to just eat the toothpaste off the brush, or they won’t open their mouth, or maybe they just refuse altogether. While we must continue on our quest to get those teeth brushed, there is something else we can do to help keep our kids’ teeth in tip-top shape.

Did you know that there are certain foods that actually clean and protect the teeth? Try to get these foods into your toddler’s daily diet (obviously barring allergies).

1. Dairy Products – Milk and yogurt are good for teeth because they contain low acidity, which means that wearing of teeth is less. They are also low in decay-inducing sugar. Milk is a good source of calcium, the main component of teeth and bones.

2. Cheese – Cheese contains natural cavity-fighting agents as well as vitamins that strength the teeth and enamel. The calcium and phosphate, which helps balance pH in the mouth, preserves tooth enamel, produces saliva, and kills bacteria that cause cavities and disease.

3. Fruits – Some of our favorite fruits are natural abrasives and eating them scrubs your teeth in a natural and harmless way, such as apples, strawberries and kiwis.

4. Vegetables – Vitamin A, found in pumpkins, carrots, sweet potatoes and broccoli, is necessary for the formation of tooth enamel. Crunchy vegetables such as raw carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, celery and cucumbers may also help clean teeth and gums because of the increased chewing it takes to break it down. Celery protects teeth by producing saliva which neutralizes acid that causes demineralization and cavities. It also massages the teeth and gums.

5. Water – Water cleans the mouth and produces saliva that deposits essential minerals into the teeth. It keeps gums hydrated and washes away particles from the teeth.

6. Whole Grains – Whole grains contain B vitamins and iron, which help keep gums healthy. Further, the magnesium that is also present is an important ingredient for bones and teeth. In addition, whole grains are high in fiber. High-fiber foods keep saliva flowing, which helps create mineral defenses against tooth decay. Foods such as bran, brown rice, whole-grain cereals and pasta are good choices for whole grains.

There are also foods that would do you good to avoid having your child eat on a regular basis.

Bacteria living in the mouth burn sugars in order to live. The byproduct of this burning is acid — which dissolves tooth enamel and causes cavities. Foods that are both sticky and sugary are bad for the teeth because they stay on the teeth longer, which gives a greater chance for bacteria to burn the sugars and produce the acid which then dissolves tooth enamel.

Acidic foods can also be bad for the teeth, as they can potentially damage the tooth enamel. That means foods and drinks that are both acidic and sugary (like soda), add up to double trouble for teeth.

Here are the worst offenders:

1. Dried fruits

2. Sugary drinks

3. Hard candies

4. Starchy foods (such potato chips and white bread, saltine crackers)

These are not complete lists, but I tried to include the foods most relevant to toddlers.

Here’s to happy and bright smiles! ☺