With free dentistry, fancy tooth brushes and tooth pastes, British kids should have the best teeth in the world. However, in recent years, tooth decay in children has become epidemic in the UK. Jamie Oliver’s Sugar Rush film highlighted the dramatic statistics that 26,000 five to nine year olds’ are being admitted to hospital annually because of rotting teeth. Learn how savvy parents are avoiding these problems and are able to keep kids teeth healthy and clean.
We see kids with terrible teeth every day in our clinic, and since dental health impacts on overall health and vitality, then this is one of the most important areas of health that parents need to focus more on. Getting nutrition right is crucial for kids teeth and gums, so read more and learn easy nutrition tips for a beautiful, healthy smile.
Avoid Sugary Drinks and Foods
Drinking sweet fizzy drinks and excess fruit juices is the main reason why kids of today have a mouth full of cavities and rotten teeth. Toddlers snacking on raisins and other sticky dried fruit can also be a big problem for tooth enamel. Stick to water, coconut water, milk, plant-based milks and fresh fruits and vegetables and you will probably see quite a difference in your kids’ teeth quite quickly. Getting nutrition right is crucial to keep kids teeth healthy. Learn easy old fashioned nutrition tips for a beautiful, healthy smile.
Soak Your Beans, Nuts and Grains
Beans, nuts and grains contain phytic acid. While some phytic acid is good for your gut, too much phytic acid can cause health problems and leach teeth and bone-building minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. To avoid this problem, this is one of the main reasons why you should soak your pulses, nuts and grains in slightly salted water for a few hours and then rinse well before cooking.
Slow cooked chicken and beef bones makes a gelatinous stock known as bone broth. Unlike shop-bought stock, homemade broth is loaded with minerals, gelatine, and collagen all necessary for strong teeth and bones as well as hair, and nails. Make lots home-made soups, slow cooked stews and add broth to risottos bolognaise and gravies.
Coconut Oil Pulling
Swishing a teaspoon of coconut oil in the mouth for a few minutes every day can strengthen the teeth as well as keeping them white and polished. Adults are recommended to “oil pull” for 20 minutes daily but even 5 minutes per day for kids is a good start. Kids love making cheeky noises with their mouth when oil pulling. Remember to spit the coconut oil out and rinse the mouth well with a little bit of water afterwards. Use odourless coconut oil for those who are not keen on the coconutty taste.
Calcium Rich Foods
Calcium is a key mineral needed to support strong teeth and bones. Most people know that dairy products contain a lot of calcium, however there is always a worry about getting enough calcium when kids need to be dairy free. Other foods that contain lots of lovely calcium (and other minerals such as magnesium and boron for bone strength) are oats, almonds (including almond milk), chia seeds, chamomile tea, bone broths, tinned salmon, sardines as well as leafy greens such as kale and broccoli. Calcium in foods is retained in the cooking process, so it does not matter if you give these foods raw or cooked.
Though vitamin A is usually associated with good eyesight, clear skin and a strong immune system, this important fat soluble vitamin helps maintain healthy oral mucous membranes and salivary flow in the mouth. It also helps to keep gums healthy. Find vitamin A in organic butter (the yellower the better), fish, egg yolks, goat cheese and liver. Bright orange and yellow foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes and mango as well and dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and spring greens contain large amounts of beta-carotene, which the body then converts to vitamin A.
British kids tend to have naturally low levels of vitamin D as we simply do not get enough sun to make this important vitamin that is crucial to bone strength, immunity and mood. A low vitamin D status may reflect in teeth with cavities or chip easily. Vitamin D levels can easily be checked using a finger prick blood test and supplemented accordingly. Cod liver oil and duck eggs contain natural sources of vitamin D and the herbs rosemary and sage help us absorb it more easily.
Vitamin K2 (or menaquinone) is known as the “calcium policeman,” meaning that vitamin K ensures the body uses calcium appropriately to build sturdy bones and teeth rather than creating calcium deposits in the organs. Mature cheese, butter from grass-fed cows and yoghurt all contain high levels of vitamin K. It is also thought that getting enough vitamin K prevents teeth crowding and the development of a narrow jaw.
What If My Child Refuses To Have Their Teeth Brushed?
We see many kids with significant sensory issues, and often teeth brushing can be a major challenge. Lack of vitamin C and low levels of vitamin B12 can impact on the oral sensory system so these need to be considered in kids who really struggle with tooth brushing. A lack of vitamin C can make gums sore and bleed, not enough vitamin B12 can make the tongue burn and look beefy and red.
A zinc deficiency, which is very common in sensory kids can interrupt sense of taste and smell and other oral sensory issues. Supporting zinc intake may be another first step to helping your sensory child find tooth brushing easier.
Until you get the nutrition better balanced you can use special toothbrushes and natural toothpastes developed for sensory kids. These are made from silicon and you can be gentle yet effective at keeping teeth clean. If your kid has a habit of swallowing their toothpaste then you might want to look for organic and natural toothpaste options.
As you see, good old fashioned nutrition is key to keeping your kid’s teeth and gums healthy and strong. Grass fed butter, organic eggs, natural yoghurt, fish, porridge oats, almonds, vegetables and chicken stock are all key traditional family foods that are crucial to oral health and overall vitality. Keeping it simple with back to basics cooking, and good quality ingredients, is a great first step to a gorgeous healthy teeth and gums.