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Dentistry: Foods for healthy teeth

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We need the right kind of food for our bodies to grow, fight infections and heal from sickness and injury. Good food gives us the energy we need to think, learn, play and be physically active. It also keeps teeth and gums strong and healthy. High quality foods give us energy, protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Foods that are high in sugar can cause tooth decay (cavities).

This fact sheet will give information on foods that will keep teeth and gums healthy. It will also list foods to be careful with, as they promote tooth decay. 

Food for healthy teeth & gums

Give or eat these foods anytime!

Vegetables

Fresh, frozen or canned:

Artichokes
Asparagus
Beans
Beets
Broccoli
Brussel sprouts
Cauliflower

Celery
Corn
Cucumber
Carrots
Cabbage
Eggplant
Zucchini

Endive
Lettuce
Olives
Onions
Peas
Peppers
Potatoes

Parsnip
Radishes
Sauerkraut
Squash
Spinach
Tomatoes
Watercress

Fresh fruit

Apricots
Bananas
Cherries
Cantaloupe
Apples
Strawberries
Oranges, tangerines
Blueberries

Peaches
Melon
Grapefruit
Pears
Plums
Watermelon
Nectarines

Milk & dairy products

Milk, cheese, yogurt, Cottage cheese

Meat & alternates

Chicken (poultry), fish, shellfish, pork, beef, eggs, nuts & seeds

Grain products

Whole grain bread, plain bagels, pita, flatbread, rice, cooked cereals

Snack ideas

Cheese
Corn chips
Tortilla chips
Milk
Olives

Hummus
Carrots
Oranges
Pitas
Pretzels

Cottage cheese
Nuts, seeds
Popcorn
Celery
Apples

Rice cakes
Triscuits
Sugarless gum
Yogurt
Nut butter

Soup
Tomatoes
Salami

Stop!

Do not give raisins, whole grapes and melon balls, stringy foods, whole olives, cherries with pits, whole nuts and seeds or popcorn, wieners and sausages to children under 4. It is easy to choke on these foods. 

What about juice?

(we should check with CHEO dietitians, to make sure we’re all giving the same advice) Juice contains a lot of natural sugar. It’s best to give your child fruit to eat, instead of juice. If you do give juice, give orange juice (not from concentrate) like Tropicana® or Oasis®. Limit juice to no more than 1/2 cup each day. 

Water is best!

Offer your child water when she is thirsty.

Milk & dairy products

Most children should have 4 servings of milk or dairy products each day . Serve milk with meals, and give milk, yoghurt or cheese before bedtime. Help your child brush his teeth afterwards, though. Leaving the natural sugar in milk on the teeth overnight can cause tooth decay.

Tips for healthy teeth and gums

Do:

  • Have regular mealtimes: breakfast, lunch and dinner, with limited snacks in between.
  • Teach your child to drink from a cup at 12 months. Children shouldn’t use bottles after 12 months of age, and never at night.

Don't:

  • Keep sweets in the house. Your child will stop asking for sweets if you don’t buy them.
  • Don’t allow food, bottles or sippy cups in bed. 

Foods to limit or avoid

These foods are high in sugar, and promote tooth decay. If you give them, it’s best to give them after a meal, as dessert. Avoid sticky, high sugar foods. They stay on teeth for a long time, and are hard to bursh off.

Foods that promote tooth decay

Limit these foods, and give only after a meal (for dessert).

Cake
Candy
Cookies
Donuts
Milk shakes
Kool-Aid
Pie

Pudding
Jam & jelly
Soft drinks
Sports drinks
Drinkable yogurt
Graham crackers

Chocolate bars
Chocolate milk
Strawberry milk
Nutella
Freezies
Dunkaroos

Bear paws
Zoodles
Honey
Molasses
Syrup
Canned fruit in syrup

Sweetened cereal
Jell-O
Sherbet
Ritz crackers
Popsicles
Ice cream

Sticky foods that promote tooth decay

Try to stay away from these foods. They stick to teeth and are hard to brush off.

Granola
Pop tarts
Nutrigrain bars
Dried fruit
Fruit roll ups

Raisins
Marshmallows
Potato chips
Gummie bears

Numbers to know

  • CHEO Dental Clinic (C-7) 613-737-7600-2357

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