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Featured Q & A - Dental

What are the top 10 foods to help kids develop strong, healthy teeth?

February 2018

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Answer from Dr. Steven Lin, dentist, TEDx speaker, and author of The Dental Diet 


Getting your kids to eat healthy foods is a huge challenge as a parent. But, you know raising healthy kids means feeding your kids the right food. So, let’s talk about shifting your focus to feeding your kids foods that promote dental health as well as good nutrition.


In this article, we’ll outline 10 foods to strengthen teeth. But, it’s hard to find healthy foods kids will actually eat. So these are the foods most kids will eat because they are tasty and great for their teeth!


Healthy Teeth Food #1: Cheese


You’ve probably heard cheese is a food to strengthen teeth. The most commonly known reason is cheese contains calcium. This is true; cheese is a good source of calcium which healthy kids need to strengthen teeth and bone. But, cheese also contains many more nutrients that make kids healthy.


Cheese is a good source of fat-soluble vitamins, in particular vitamin D, vitamin A, and vitamin K2. These three vitamins help absorb and place calcium in teeth and bones. Diets lacking these vitamins can lead to poor dental health in kids. Cheese is also a good source of vitamin B12, crucial for a child’s growing brain.


Healthy Teeth Food #2: Butter


Butter is one of the best foods for teeth. Like cheese it’s rich in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2. But, it also has the advantage of having good fat. And, believe it or not, fat plays a big role in your kid’s dental health.


For healthy kids, sugar is one of the biggest causes of dental health issues like tooth decay. Butter provides a great replacement for sweet sugary foods. It makes food taste great. And, it also makes kids feel satisfied and full.


Healthy Teeth Food #3: Carrots


Few would argue that carrots are a healthy food for kids. They are great for kids’ dental health for many reasons. Carrots strengthen teeth due to their fiber content, which promotes healthy bacteria in the mouth. They are a good supply of beta-carotene, a precursor nutrient to vitamin A. They are also rich in other nutrients and antioxidants such as magnesium and zinc. Studies show that beta-carotene is more available in cooked carrots than raw carrots. But, at the same time cooking carrots may reduce their antioxidant level.


Healthy Teeth Food #4: Meat on the Bone


One big mistake we make when choosing foods for kids’ dental health is giving them food that is too easy to chew. Healthy kids should be fed cuts of meat as soon as they can safely manage them. Children begin chewing foods at 6 months of age when solid foods are introduced. Unfortunately, most baby food products do not reflect literature-based food introduction.


As your child grows and can safely manage meats, foods may include chicken legs, marrow bones, ribs, or other cuts of meat that include bones. These parts of the animal include the bones, cartilage, tendons, and skin. A good cut of meat with these parts contains proteins that build collagen.


Healthy Teeth Food #5: Kombucha


Kombucha is a fermented tea drink. With a sweet, tangy, and refreshing taste, kombucha is a drink kids will enjoy.


Fermented foods have live probiotic cultures in them. Like cheese and butter, kombucha adds these probiotics to the oral microbiome. These friendly microbes help fight harmful bacteria.


And, kombucha also has other benefits. As it’s made from tea, it’s a good source of antioxidants known as polyphenols. These have been shown to promote overall oral health. If you’re purchasing kombucha make sure to check it doesn’t have added sugar. 


Healthy Teeth Food #6: Broccoli


It’s no surprise broccoli is great for kids. And, it’s also a terrific food to strengthen teeth.


Broccoli is full of nutrients such as vitamins K1, C, folate, and chromium. Lack of vitamin C is associated with gum health problems. This is likely because of its role in boosting the immune system in the mouth. Broccoli is also a great source of dietary fiber, which promotes probiotics in the mouth and prevents tooth decay.


Healthy Teeth Food #7: Coconut Oil


Coconut oil has received a lot of attention for its ability to strengthen teeth. But, coconut oil is a key food for healthy kids.


It’s rich in medium chain triglycerides or MCT oils. These fats are absorbed quickly in the body, including in children. Coconut oil boosts energy and can stop hunger pains in kids.


Coconut oil also has anti-bacterial properties which may help prevent plaque build-up. Overall, coconut oil may help to balance the oral microbiome – but further studies are needed.


Healthy Teeth Food #8: Eggs


Eggs are probably as versatile as they are healthy. They have a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals that kids need to be healthy.


Eggs are a source of fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K2. They also supply B12, B5, and folate. Other nutrients found in eggs include zinc, calcium, and the antioxidant selenium. It’s true that very few foods are as nutritious as eggs.


However, the source of eggs is important. Eggs from pasture-raised chickens have the key vitamin K2 which is vital to strengthen teeth.


Healthy Teeth Food #9: Sardines


You’ve heard the health benefits of eating whole foods. Well this includes meats and fish.


With large sea creatures and fish, it’s hard for kids to eat the bones, flesh, skin, and organ meats. But with very small fish, you get all of these in one serving. That’s why sardines are a great option for your kids’ health.


Fish bones are a rich source of calcium. Fish eyes and organs supply vitamins A, D, and K2. They are also a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids and full range of other nutrients.


Healthy Teeth Food #10: Liver Pate


Ok, the last one may be a bit of a difficult for some children, but it’s one of the most important. Organ meats are a superfood packed with vitamins required to grow strong bones, teeth, and joints. 


While we don’t often eat liver today, traditional societies have always done so. Kids should eat organ meats at least once per week if not more. The problem is we don’t become accustomed to eating these when we’re young, so we tend to stay away for life.


Liver pate is one of the most versatile ways to eat organ meat. It’s packed with fat-soluble vitamins and is a nutrient powerhouse. It’s rich in vitamins A, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K2, vitamin B12, and folic acid as well as vitamin C and a range or other minerals.


About the Author


Dr. Steven Lin is a dentist who focuses on the mouth-body connection. Through ancestral nutrition, the oral and gut microbiome, and epigenetics, his programs aim to prevent chronic dental and system disease.


Dr. Lin’s book The Dental Diet discusses how food shapes our mouth, body, and mind. You can discover life-changing health through delicious natural foods with Dr. Lin’s 40-day food program to prevent cavities, reduce the risk of braces, and diminish diseases all over the body.


You may visit Dr. Steven Lin at his website www.drstevenlin.com or on Social media www.facebook.com/drstevenlin and www.instagram.com/drstevenlin.