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Nourishing Smiles: The Role of Nutrition in Pediatric Dentistry




March is National Nutrition Month, a time to reflect on the importance of healthy eating habits for overall wellness. As pediatric dentists, we understand the crucial link between nutrition and dental health, and we're here to share some insights to help nourish your child's smile.

 

Eat Right: Food, Nutrition, and Health Tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

 

20 Health Tips:

 

Eat Breakfast: Start your day with a healthy breakfast that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Try making a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, low-fat cheese, salsa, and a whole wheat tortilla or a parfait with low-fat plain yogurt, fruit, and whole grain cereal.

 

  • Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and veggies add color, flavor, and texture plus vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber to your plate. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 1⁄2 cups of vegetables your daily goal. Experiment with different types, including fresh, frozen, and canned.

 

  • Watch Portion Sizes: Use half your plate for fruits and vegetables and the other half for grains and lean protein foods. Complete the meal with a serving of fat-free or low-fat milk or yogurt. Measuring cups may also help you compare your portions to the recommended serving size.

 

  • Be Active: Regular physical activity has many health benefits. Start by doing what exercise you can. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and adults at least two hours and 30 minutes per week. You don't have to hit the gym – take a walk after dinner or put on music and dance at home.

 

  • Get to Know Food Labels: Reading the Nutrition Facts panel can help you choose foods and drinks to meet your nutrient needs.

 

  • Fix Healthy Snacks: Healthy snacks can sustain your energy levels between meals, especially when they include a combination of foods. Choose from two or more of the MyPlate food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and protein. Try raw veggies with low-fat cottage cheese or hummus, or a tablespoon of nut or seed butter with an apple or banana.

 

  • Consult an RDN: Whether you want to lose weight, lower your health-risks or manage a chronic disease, consult the experts! Registered dietitian nutritionists can help you by providing sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice.

 

  • Follow Food Safety Guidelines: Reduce your chances of getting sick with proper food safety. This includes: regular hand washing, separating raw foods from ready-to-eat foods, cooking foods to the appropriate internal temperature, and refrigerating food promptly. Learn more about home food safety at eatright.org.

 

  • Drink More Water: Quench your thirst with water instead of drinks with added sugars. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water, especially if you are active, an older adult, or live or work in hot conditions.

 

  • Get Cooking: Preparing foods at home can be healthy, rewarding, and cost-effective. Master some kitchen basics, like dicing onions or cooking dried beans.

 

The Building Blocks of Oral Health:

 

Just like the rest of the body, teeth and gums require essential nutrients to thrive. Proper nutrition provides the building blocks for strong teeth and gums, helping to prevent common dental issues like tooth decay and gum disease. A well-balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants supports optimal oral health from a young age.

 

Nutrition Tips for Healthy Smiles:

 

As pediatric dentists, we play a crucial role in educating families about the importance of nutrition for oral health. During dental check-ups, we provide personalized dietary recommendations and guidance to help families make informed choices about their child's nutrition. We also emphasize the importance of good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing, to complement a healthy diet.

 

 

Nutrition plays a fundamental role in pediatric dentistry, shaping the foundation for lifelong oral health. By prioritizing healthy eating habits and incorporating nutrient-rich foods into your child's diet, you can help nourish their smile and set them up for a lifetime of dental wellness. Remember, a balanced diet and regular dental check-ups are essential ingredients for a healthy, happy smile.

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