As parents, we know that brushing and flossing are essential for our children’s overall oral health. But sometimes forget just how much the foods and drinks we allow our children to have daily can affect the health of their teeth and gums. Having a balanced diet, along with proper brushing and flossing, can help your child develop life-long habits to prevent major oral issues down the line.
You might be wondering, which vitamins and minerals will help ensure your little ones have healthy teeth and gums throughout childhood? We’re here to tell you!
Vitamin D – The Foundation
Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium and phosphate. These are crucial for building and strengthening teeth and keeping the tooth enamel strong. What happens without it? Well, if Vitamin D isn’t present enough in your child’s diet, their teeth can be at risk of weakening. Children without a Vitamin D-rich diet are often more likely to develop cavities (even with proper oral hygiene and routine visits to the dentist), and teeth are weaker overall.
Vitamin D isn’t just essential for the health of your little one’s teeth, though; it also reduces the risk of bone fracture and keeps your child’s immune system functioning normally. Our bodies produce Vitamin D naturally when we’re exposed to the sun (remember always to use sunscreen!). Vitamin D can also be found in foods and drinks like portobello mushrooms, orange juice, fatty fish, and flax milk.
As mentioned above, Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, but why is calcium so essential on its own? Calcium is the main mineral that makes up our teeth and jaw. Without the right amount of calcium in our diets, our bones can be weakened. We recommend talking with your primary pediatrician and nutritionist about how much calcium should ultimately be in your child’s diet. Still, it is safe to say that the more calcium in a diet, the stronger the teeth can become.
Calcium isn’t only vital to strengthen teeth, however. It also maintains the health and function of vital organs, your child’s brain, and skeletal muscles. Thankfully, calcium can be found in a wide array of vegetables, meats, many grains, dairy, and non-dairy products.
Every body contains a large amount of phosphorus, but interesting enough, most of it is found in the teeth. This is because phosphorus works alongside calcium to protect and rebuild the tooth’s enamel. As you might know from going to the dentist yourself, rebuilding enamel can be a complicated business, which is why replenishing phosphorus at a young age is essential for the lifelong maintenance and repair of teeth and body tissues.
If you’re searching for ways to bring more phosphorus-rich foods into your child’s diet, look no further than anything that is protein-rich, like meats, nuts, legumes, eggs, dairy, and protein-rich non-dairy products.
We’ve spoken a lot about keeping little teeth strong, but what vitamins actively help the health of the gums? Vitamin C is crucial to keep connective tissues in the gums healthy, functioning, and strong. Without it, the tissues that hold teeth securely in place can be significantly weakened. This can lead to loose teeth, frequent gum bleeding, and even put your child at risk for gum disease.
Thankfully, this is where the tasty, sweet fruits come in. Citrus fruits and berries are a great way to bring Vitamin C into a diet. However, don’t skim on spinach, kale, and sweet potatoes; they are vitamin-rich and make great snacks that don’t contain great deals of sugar.
Vitamin A doesn’t just benefit the mouth’s health, but your eyes too! Like Vitamin C, Vitamin A helps maintain the health of connective tissues, from the gums to the mucous membranes. It also helps keep saliva flowing in the mouth, which is necessary when preventing dry mouth and keeps bacteria and damaging acids at bay.
Vitamin A is found in dairy, meats, sweet potatoes, egg yolks, and many dark, leafy greens.
Are Vitamins Enough?
A healthy diet can do a lot to encourage a healthy mouth, but we know many parents deal with picky eating. If your child isn’t getting the vitamins they need from food products alone, taking vitamin supplements might benefit them. We always recommend that you speak with their pediatrician and ask them directly about what supplements they might suggest.
At Timpanogos Pediatric Dentistry, our team is ready to help you create healthy habits and build positive memories in the dentist chair from adolescence onward. After all, we’re here to make happy and healthy smiles. Schedule an appointment today!