Almost half of American children between the ages of 2 and 19 years suffer from decayed teeth. Although poor oral hygiene is primarily responsible for tooth decay, diet also plays a part. By consuming the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals, children can reduce these confounding statistics and establish a lifelong pattern of good oral hygiene. Which vitamins and minerals do children need for healthy teeth?
Adequate levels of the B vitamins B2, B3, and B12 are essential for healthy gums. They help to prevent sores and halitosis and can be found in fish, meat, poultry, dairy, almonds, and green leafy vegetables such as spinach.
Calcium is one of the primary needs for strong, healthy bones and teeth. Lack of calcium can lead to fragile, brittle bones that break easily as well as teeth that crack or break or develop decay. Calcium is particularly vital during the formative years when a child’s bones and teeth are growing. One of the best ways for children to receive sufficient calcium is through dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt, and canned fish such as sardines. For vegans and vegetarians, soy products, fortified cereals, and leafy green vegetables are excellent sources of calcium.
A regimen of good oral hygiene will not compensate for a lack of iron, so if your child is low in iron, also called anemia, they’re more likely to develop infections and gum disease. Iron is essential for the red blood cells that maintain a healthy immune system and therefore, a healthy body. Iron can be found in whole-grain bread and cereals, eggs, green leafy vegetables, red meat, and seafood.
The teeth contain most of the phosphorus that is found in the human body. This element is necessary to convert calcium into healthy teeth and to rebuild tooth enamel. Phosphorus can be obtained in many foods for both vegans and omnivores. Excellent sources of phosphorus include:
- Dried fruit
- Pumpkin seeds
Potassium, like vitamin D, is essential for strong, healthy bones and it is easy to obtain. Bananas, always popular with children, contain potassium as do avocados, dried apricots, lima beans, milk, potatoes, prunes, and spinach.
Vitamin A is good for the eyes, as well as the teeth, and it helps the body to perform several different functions. Vitamin A aids in the formation and maintenance of teeth, saliva, and the mucous membranes. Adequate saliva production is essential to remove food detritus and bacteria after eating. Vitamin A can be found in chicken, dairy, egg yolks, leafy green vegetables, orange vegetables, and fruits such as carrots and oranges, and red meat.
Vitamin C is beneficial for your immune system as well as the health of your teeth and gums. It helps the connective tissues and the blood vessels in your gums so that your teeth remain healthy and nourished from the inside. It also helps reduce the incidence of bleeding gums and inflammation. If your child consumes an ample amount of fruit, particularly berries, oranges, and kiwis, as well as vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, leafy green vegetables, and red bell peppers, they should receive sufficient vitamin C in their diet.
Healthy Gums and Teeth
Although ideally, your child should obtain their nutritional needs through a varied and healthy diet that includes plenty of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, this is not always possible. Some children have inflexible food preferences, even at an early age, and others may have food allergies or sensitivities that do not facilitate nutritional health. If this is the case, then nutritional supplements are available that can provide the vitamins and minerals that they need. Whatever, the source, these vitamins and minerals are essential for your child’s current health as well as their future health.