How important is a child’s diet in the prevention of cavities?

When it comes to a child’s diet, experts agree that a varied diet is key for proper growth and good health. However, too many sugary foods and beverages (such as cake, cookies, candy, milk, fruit juice, etc.), as well as savory snacks like pretzels and potato chips, can lead to tooth decay. This is because carbohydrates linger on teeth and cause decay over time.

Child's diet

Here are some tips for choosing healthier foods that are better for your child’s teeth:

  • Keep fruits and vegetables in your house to offer as “healthy snacks”

    Eating fruits and vegetables is a great way to stay healthy and avoid processed snacks. Choose water-rich fruits and vegetables like pears, melons, celery, and cucumbers. And limit sugary fruits like bananas and raisins. Don’t forget to brush your teeth afterward!

  • Serve cheese with lunch or as a snack.   Cheese can help keep your teeth clean by triggering the flow of saliva, which helps wash away food particles. Aged cheeses like cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Swiss are especially good for this.
  • Avoid sticky, chewy foods.   If your little one enjoys snacks like raisins, dried figs, granola bars, oatmeal or peanut butter cookies, jelly beans, caramel, honey, molasses, or syrup, it’s important to make sure they brush their teeth afterward. These types of foods can stick to teeth and make it more difficult for saliva to wash them clean.
  • Get your children in the habit of eating as few snacks as possible. It’s more important to snack often than to eat a lot of food at once. Allowing time between meals gives your saliva a chance to wash away any particles that bacteria would otherwise feast on. If you snack frequently without brushing your teeth afterwards, you’re constantly giving bacteria the fuel it needs to thrive and cause plaque buildup and tooth decay. Try to limit yourself to one or two snacks per day, and brush your teeth immediately after eating if possible.

For more information about how child’s diet can aid in the prevention of cavities, check out articles by the American Dental Association.