Dental care doesn’t just start with brushing – it’s nutritional. Setting your kids up for success from the get-go can make or break healthy teeth (and make or break your wallet). This week, we interviewed Dr. Katie Foster from The Smile Shop to talk about healthy eating habits to promote great dental hygiene!
Q. Which foods should you eat? And which foods should you avoid?
A. Avoid sticky foods such as fruit snacks, or gummies. Not only do they have high sugar content, they have the ability to really stick fast to your little one’s teeth. While white milk is a great drink choice, avoid adding the Strawberry and Chocolate flavorings, as well as fruit juice If you’re looking for some healthier choices, stick with water, dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, and foods that are high in protein. Maintaining a well-balanced diet is key to oral health.
Q. When a sugar craving hits, and you just have to reach out for that juice, what’s the best way to prevent decay?
A. We all get hit with those cravings, and the best mantra is “everything in moderation”. If your child is allowed to consume fruit juice or even soda limit it to special occasions ie. Birthday parties and dinners out. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that your child only consumes 4-6 oz. of juice daily. I personally take that one step further and tell my patient’s and parents to water down the juice so to temper the sugar content. Another tip – if your child likes his/her morning juice, only allow them to have it with a meal. Don’t let them carry it around in a sippy cup or a bottle all day as it is constantly introducing their teeth to the high sugar and acid content… therefore the perfect recipe for cavities
Q. I’ve found that healthy snacks are sometimes the hardest “to go” items. What would you recommend?
A. Harder cheese like string cheese, Babybel, or cheddar make for great easy, healthy and still delicious treats. Carrots in individual packages, grapes, hard boiled eggs, and apples are also easy grab and go items. If you’re looking for something cool, try frozen peas, blueberries, and grapes! Yogurt is a great option, but make sure you check the labels at the grocery store – some yogurts are higher in sugar content than others. Another great one is making your own “potato” chips with kale, sweet potatoes, or beets instead.
Q. I’ve found that walking my kids through books on the subject helps introduce them to healthier habits in a fun way. Do you have any book recommendations?
A. I recommend The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss, Brush Your Teeth Please, by Leslie Mcquire (this is a great pop-up book for younger children!), Pony Brushes his Teeth, by Michael Dahl (which is a great book to read right before brushing) and Ready Set Brush, a Sesame Street Book for some great interaction.
Q. Any last tips?
A. A great way to get children on board with eating healthy is to get them involved. Let them help in the kitchen, grocery shop, and cook meals. Growing a small garden and involving your children in the process is a great way to peak their interest, and set them on the right path to better nutrition.
About Dr. Katie Foster
Dr. Katie Foster attended Reed High School, then California Lutheran University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology. Dr. Foster received her dental degree at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she realized her passion for working with and treating children. Following her dental training, Dr. Foster pursued her pediatric residency at Baylor College of Dentistry in association with the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital. There, she gained extensive knowledge in dental emergencies and the skills necessary to care for special needs and medically compromised patients. Dr. Foster is a board candidate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and an active member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.