By Sadé Meeks, MS, RD
It’s the time of the year where gingerbread cookies are being made, candy canes are in reach, and Santa’s cookies are being eaten. As you can see and taste, the holidays are full of sweet treats, which should be enjoyed! That’s why it’s extra important that good dental hygiene is practiced during the season and year round!
It’s recommended that parents and caregivers begin brushing their children’s’ teeth when the first tooth appears, using non-fluoridated toothpaste. You should switch to the fluoridated toothpaste when the child turns two to help prevent cavities and tooth decay. Flossing should begin when children have teeth that are side by side. In addition to flossing and brushing, eating certain foods can also support dental health.
Did you know that cranberries, a holiday favorite, have been shown to benefit dental hygiene? Studies show that the compounds in cranberries, and also blueberries, may play a valuable role in protecting teeth from bacteria that can cause cavities (1). Additionally, fiber rich fruits and vegetables support dental hygiene. According to the American Dental Association, fiber helps keeps your gums and teeth clean by stimulating the flow of saliva. Our saliva contains calcium and phosphate, which help restore minerals that may have been lost from bacterial acids (2).
See how much fiber is in your favorite winter vegetables (per cup):
- Carrots: 3 grams
- Brussel Sprouts: 3 grams
- Rutabaga: 3grams
- Sweet potatoes: 4 grams
- Parsnips: 7 grams
Fiber isn’t just important for dental hygiene, but it is also an overall important part of our diet. It helps keep bowels regular, promote blood sugar control, benefits heart health, and is very satiating.
Fiber recommendations for children are as followed:
- Children 1-3 years: 19 grams of fiber per day
- Children 4-8 years: 25 grams of fiber per day
- Boys 9-13 years: 31 grams of fiber per day
- Girls 9-13 years: 26 grams of fiber per day
You can also find fiber in whole grains like brown rice, oatmeal, 100% whole wheat bread, and MESSY MONKEYS!