The first five years of a child’s life are very important because during this time they are on the path of learning what and how much they have to eat and drink. As parents, this is the perfect time to alter their eating habits and turn them into healthy ones.
As a parent, you are probably already aware of how much calcium is important for bone health. But what a lot of parents don’t know is that calcium is just as important for healthy teeth in a growing child.
Calcium strengthens the tooth enamel, the hard layer of the teeth which is primarily responsible for defending the teeth against erosion and cavities. Since milk contains calcium, it is very important for your child’s teeth.
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Milk Should Become Part of Diet at an Early Age
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the teeth and bones of our body store 99% of all the body’s calcium. A baby starts developing teeth long before they are born, this is also why expecting mothers are recommended to increase their calcium intake.
Look at the daily recommended calcium intake here.
From their first few months through their teen years, milk and dairy products are crucial for the growth and development of bones and teeth. And as they age, calcium also helps protect them against osteoporosis.
Milk Also Helps Fight Tooth Decay
Current research suggests that milk and dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and others prevent tooth decay. Milk not only contain calcium and phosphorus but also caseins – proteins that form a protective film on the enamel of the teeth.
This thin protective layer prevents the teeth from getting decayed from common bacterial acids. If your child’s teeth become sensitive due to poor oral care, or through eating sugary foods, the use of milk products should be increased.
The calcium and phosphorus minerals in milk help protect and repair tooth enamel that becomes damaged due to acidic and sugary food.
Encouraging Children to Drink Milk
Adding milk to a child’s diet should come as second nature to parents because milk and dairy products are absorbed easily by the body. Besides calcium and phosphorus, milk is also a rich source of magnesium and vitamin D.
All of these minerals and vitamins help the body absorb calcium more, thus strengthening the bones and teeth. And if you are concerned about the child’s weight, a healthy diet consisting of half-fat milk will provide the same amount of calcium and other minerals as full-fat milk would.
For parents who are struggling with getting their children to drink milk should consider using other dairy products that can help them reach their daily recommended numbers. Dairy products like cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, and cottage cheese are all good sources of calcium.
Drinking Milk Should be Combined with Oral Care
Although milk is very good for our teeth, it isn’t a miracle food that will protect your teeth forever. You must also teach your children to incorporate a good oral care routine. Teach them about dental health and the benefits of brushing teeth daily.
When milk is combined with good oral health, it will make the teeth stronger and protect the tooth enamel for a very long time to come. As they age, consider teaching them about brushing techniques, flossing, and how different kinds of toothpaste such as fluoride toothpaste help their teeth.
What if Your Child is Lactose Intolerant?
If your child is lactose intolerant, there are several non-dairy alternatives to calcium. For instance, seeds such as poppy, sesame, and chia seeds are all good sources of calcium.
Other sources of calcium which are non-dairy include –
- Canned Salmon
- Leafy Greens such as spinach and kale
By adding this food to a child’s health, you can easily meet the daily recommended amount of calcium.
How Can We Help?
Understanding the unique nutritional needs of your child is a challenging task. There are so many minerals, vitamins, and other micronutrients important for the wellbeing of the child.
If you’re not quite sure what to feed your child to ensure that they have strong and healthy teeth free from decay and other oral diseases, get in touch with our expert team of dentists at Icon Dental Center in Seattle and Everett.
We create a unique and welcoming environment for your kids to keep them comfortable. Our dentists will conduct regular check-ups and advise you with the best dieting habits for stronger and decay-resistant teeth.
Don’t ignore your child’s dental health, get in touch with us today even if you have been doing your best to look after their oral health with consistent changes to diet and nutrition. There are a number of other oral matters that only a Pedodontist can help find and provide a solution for.