Did you know that caring for your child’s oral health begins in utero? To help you build a healthy oral foundation for your growing baby, you will need to start while they are still in the womb. Your diet is one of the most important factors when it comes to nurturing your child’s developing teeth. For example:
Calcium: This mineral happens to be the main element in a tooth. Since your baby gets the calcium it needs from the foods that you eat, consuming foods rich in calcium, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, broccoli, and kale will help your child create strong teeth (and bones).
Your baby’s primary teeth begin to form around the sixth week of your pregnancy, and the teeth begin to mineralize around the third or fourth month of pregnancy. It takes about 10 months for the teeth to completely calcify. During this time, the bonelike layer of the tooth (the dentin) forms along with the tooth enamel. Your child’s permanent teeth start to develop in utero around four months of pregnancy and even though they aren’t visible at birth, they are under the gums and growing until your child is around eight.
Your baby’s primary teeth start to form in the sixth week of your pregnancy, while their teeth begin to mineralize around the third to fourth month of pregnancy. It takes about 10 months for your child’s teeth to completely calcify. During this time, the bonelike layer of the tooth (the dentin) forms along with the tooth enamel. Your child’s permanent teeth start to form in utero around four months of pregnancy and even though they aren’t visible at birth, they are under the gums and continue developing until 8-10 years.
Phosphorous: This is an important mineral which creates the hardness in teeth. Phosphorous is perhaps the easiest nutrient to find and which a baby needs for creating strong teeth. Phosphorous is found in every cell in the body and can be obtained through a variety of foods, especially those high in protein like meat and milk, but also cereals.
Vitamin D: This vitamin regulates the calcium and phosphorus in the blood. Vitamin D helps absorb calcium and phosphorus from food in the stomach as well as the re-absorption of calcium through the kidneys. Low levels of vitamin D may contribute to defects in the tooth enamel of a developing child along with early childhood cavities. Vitamin D, unless it is taken in supplemental form, is one of the hardest to obtain naturally. You can find it in oily fish like salmon and tuna, but it is typically added to milk and other foods. While it is produced in the body from exposure to sunlight, most people don’t get enough sunlight to manufacture the necessary levels.
Protein: Next to water, protein is the most available substance in the body. Protein is required for building, maintaining and replacing bodily tissues. While all proteins are derived from amino acids, nine amino acids (out of 20) can’t be made by the body so your diet becomes the source. Animal-based foods have all of the necessary amino acids, while much of the plant-based protein sources are are lacking one or more of the essential amino acids required for good health. You can find protein in lean red meat, fish and poultry, cheese, milk and yogurt, quinoa and soy products, and vegetables. Your goal is to obtain all of the essential amino acids necessary for healthy function.
Once your child is born, you will need to maintain a nutritious diet, especially when breastfeeding. To protect your child’s oral health while bottle-feeding, avoid putting them to bed with any kind of sugary liquids, including milk and formula, to avoid dental caries (known as baby bottle tooth decay).
Clean your baby’s mouth as soon as their first tooth appears, wiping their gums with moistened gauze or a soft cloth. If your child has teeth that are touching, you can use a rice-grained size of fluoridated toothpaste when cleaning. Until your child develops proper manual dexterity, you will want to brush and floss their teeth. Brush their teeth at least twice each day, and provide a thorough flossing once a day.
As recommended by the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, your child’s first dental visit should be within six months after their first tooth erupts.