HomeBrowse by agesBaby + Toddler + Preschooler
Eating and Tooth Decay

Did you know that good nutrition helps promote healthy teeth? Learn tips on how to prevent tooth decay in your child.

Young Girl flossing

Children need to eat a balanced diet for their teeth to develop properly and for their gums to stay healthy. Unfortunately, tooth decay is one of the most common childhood health problems for children in the United States. Tooth decay is not only painful; it also can lead to other problems, such as ear and sinus infections, difficulty speaking, and a lack of concentration. Children with dental problems also are more likely to miss school and fall behind in class. Tooth decay can happen when anything other than water is in a child’s mouth for too long. The first signs of tooth decay are white spots on the gums above the front teeth.

Eating & Drinking Habits for Healthy Teeth:
  • Offer milk to your child every day – whole milk from age 1 to 2, and reduced-fat milk after age 2 unless directed by your pediatrician. Dairy milk substitutes (almond milk, goat’s milk, etc.) can be given to your child; consult with your pediatrician about what milk options are best for your child and family’s preferences.

  • Don’t let your child suck on a bottle or sippy cup filled with milk, formula, or juice at bedtime.

  • Encourage toddlers and preschoolers to eat crunchy vegetables like green beans and cauliflower as these help remove plaque from your child’s teeth.

  • Avoid sugary snacks, candy, soda, and juice – they all cause cavities.

  • Do not share spoons and bottles between caregivers and children, or among children themselves.

First 5 California
Contributed by:
First 5 California
Find this useful?
Join our First 5 family – it’s free!
Enjoy personalized content based on your child’s age every time you visit our site.