Oftentimes we tend to simplify the meaning of "being healthy" by focusing on singular measures such as weight. Health is really defined in terms of one's overall condition, which includes factors such as dental hygiene.
Developing good oral hygiene habits early in childhood is critical to longterm health. While I spend a significant amount of my time working with mothers and children, I also have experience working with older patients. One question I always have to ask these patients is, "How are your teeth?" I even follow up by asking them to actually show me their teeth. Why? I need to know that they can eat!
To pave the way for long term oral health, keep in mind that food choices over time can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Overall, foods and beverages that are high in sugar or are acid can be particularly harmful as they erode enamel and decay teeth.
Some basic rules of thumb:
I recently ran across a genius tip sheet about how verbiage can really affect (both positively and negatively) children's eating behaviors. What and how you communicate about food can make all the difference in achieving healthy eating goals you have set for your family.
Some must do things include:
Adapted from “What You Say Really Matters?” in Feeding Young Children in Group Settings, Dr. Janice Fletcher and Dr. Laurel Branen, University of Idaho. Retrieved from http://www.choosemyplate.gov/sites/default/files/audiences/PhrasesThatHelpAndHinder.pdf.
Registered Dietitian, Austinite, Mom with a 2-yr old, Dog lover