Answers on Diet and Snacks

  1. What type of diet is considered healthy for my child?

    A healthy diet is a balanced diet that naturally supplies all the nutrients your child needs to grow. Such a diet includes daily servings from all the major food groups, including: fruits and vegetables; breads and cereals; milk and dairy products; and meat, fish and eggs.

    A balanced diet is essential for proper development of your child’s teeth as well as healthy development of gum tissues. A diet high in certain kinds of carbohydrates however, such as sugar and starches, can place your child at increased risk of tooth decay.

    One particular challenge in raising children today is that we are surrounded by sweets and food, including not just soda and candies, but also bread, crackers, pasta, pretzels and potato chips. Some processed foods such as catsup and salad dressings and even peanut butter can also be high in sugar.

    In the end, we are not asking you to avoid all sugar. But we do encourage a more moderate and balanced approach to diet, such as:

    • Try serving foods high in sugar or starch only during mealtimes.
    • If you must provide sugar during snack times, choose nutritious varieties (e.g., fruits) over the plain sugar varieties (e.g., candies).
    • If your child chews gum or sips soda, choose gums and sodas without sugar.
    • Limit the number of snack times during each day.

    When you visit your pediatric dentist next time, don’t hesitate to ask your dentist to help you assess your child’s diet. Sometimes a few sensible steps, such as not stocking your pantry full with sugary or starchy snacks, can often go a very long way towards developing good oral health! (Back to top)

  2. Does a balanced diet assure that my child is getting enough fluoride?

    A balanced diet does not guarantee the necessary amount of fluoride for the proper development and maintenance of your child’s teeth. If you do not live in a fluoridated community, your child may need a fluoride supplement during years of tooth development.

    The precise amount of supplements your child needs depends upon many factors, including: the amount of fluoride in your drinking water, your child’s oral conditions, and your child’s age and weight.

    During your next visit to your pediatric dentist, your dentist can help to assess how much supplemental fluoride is needed by your child. (Back to top)

  3. What advice do you have for children who are not yet on solid foods?

    Don’t nurse your child to sleep or get in the habit of putting your child to bed with a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or sweetened liquid. While your child sleeps, any un-swallowed liquid in the mouth will support growth of bacteria that produce acids and attack the teeth. As a general rule, put your child to bed with nothing more than a pacifier or bottle of water. (Back to top)

THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THESE PAGES DO NOT CONSTITUTE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health.