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What Children Should Eat (and What They Should Avoid) for Optimum Oral Health

What should children eat to promote oral health?

There are many food and drink options that promote oral health. Good options include items that don’t have added sugar and do have the nutrients to help children have strong, healthy bodies and teeth. Here are some recommended food and drink choices:

  • Milk
  • Fluoridated water
  • Cheese
  • Fresh fruit
  • Whole grains
  • Fresh vegetables

What are foods children should avoid?

Anything with added sugar should be consumed with caution. Children under the age of 2 should not consume any added sugar and children 2 to 18 should, at most, consume 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Added sugar promotes tooth decay and other health complications. Things with added sugar include, but are not limited to:

  • Soda
  • Flavored water and juice with added sugar
  • Candy
  • Snack cakes
  • Yogurt
  • Energy and sports drinks
  • Carbonated beverages (carbonation also promotes tooth decay)
  • Fruit cups
  • Syrups and other sweet breakfast items

What is the childcare provider’s role in this?

Even though the childcare provider does not supply every meal for children, they do often provide snacks and/or some meals. It is important that the meals and snacks provided promote good oral health. Also, the childcare provider can supply information to parents encouraging them to make the same healthy choices at home. Here are a few ideas on how to do this:

  1. Encourage parents to give their children plain tap water (this will be fluoridated). If they prefer bottled, have them check the labels to make sure it is fluoridated.
  2. Show parents the food pyramid and the list of items above. Explain the importance of eliminating or limiting the items with added sugar.
  3. Educate parents about the amount of added sugar in most juice drinks. Encourage them, instead, to give their children fresh fruit and water or milk.