Healthy eating is essential for oral health! Nutrition has a direct impact on your teeth and gums. Poor nutrition may lead to tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. Researchers have also linked oral diseases to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and premature/low-weight births. Improving your family’s nutrition is a journey; here are some tips and information to help you along the way.
The Big Picture
MyPlate illustrates the five food groups that form the building blocks for a healthy diet, using a familiar image—a place setting for a meal. This graphic from the USDA provides a visual for each food group and how it might look on a placemat. There are many great tips and resources on the USDA website, here.
Note: adapted from the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion’s ChooseMyPlate.gov Web site.
Watch the Sugar
Show your children how to look at the sugar content on food labels of some common foods. Sometimes surprising amounts of sugar are found in foods we might consider healthy, like yogurt, salad dressing, smoothies, and sports drinks. Making small changes on a regular basis can help reduce cavity-causing sugars. Substitutions can be a great way to reduce sugar.
- Add fruit to cereal or oatmeal
- Add a little honey to a low sugar yogurt option
- Freeze real fruit instead of a popsicle, i.e., kiwi slice
Parents, you can teach your kids about health and nutrition in the kitchen, in the car, and when you are out to eat.
- Cook together in the kitchen and talk about the food groups as you try new recipes together. Check out Chop Chop online for lots of great kid-friendly recipes, http://www.chopchopmag.org/.
- Make healthy eating fun, make a food creature!
- Model ways to substitute healthy options at a restaurant, like substituting a salad or vegetable for fries.
- Enjoy treats on special occasions.
It is important to teach kids healthy eating habits early and throughout their life. Encourage them as they practice making smart food choices, including healthy snacks. Healthy eating will have a positive impact on your child’s oral health.
And don’t forget to brush often!