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Good Diet

A child’s general level of health often dictates his or her oral health, and vice versa.  Therefore, supplying children with a well-balanced diet is more likely to lead to healthier teeth and gums.  A good diet provides the child with the many different nutrients he or she needs to grow.  These nutrients are necessary for gum tissue development, strong bones, and to protect the child against certain illnesses.

According to the food pyramid, children need vegetables, fruits, meat, grains, beans, and dairy products to grow properly.  These different food groups should be eaten in balance for optimal results.

How does my child’s diet affect his or her teeth?

Almost every snack contains at least one type of sugar.  Most often, parents are tempted to throw away candy and chocolate snacks – without realizing that many fruit snacks contain one (if not several) types of sugar or carbohydrate.  When sugar-rich snacks are eaten, the sugar content attracts oral bacteria. The bacteria feast on food remnants left on or around the teeth.  Eventually, feasting bacteria produce enamel-attacking acids.

When tooth enamel is constantly exposed to acid, it begins to erode – the result is childhood tooth decay.  If tooth decay is left untreated for prolonged periods, acids begin to attack the soft tissue (gums) and even the underlying jawbone.  Eventually, the teeth become prematurely loose or fall out, causing problems for emerging adult teeth – a condition known as childhood periodontal disease.

Regular checkups and cleanings at the dentist’s office are an important line of defense against tooth decay.  However, implementing good dietary habits and minimizing sugary food and drink intake as part of the “home care routine” are equally important.

How can I alter my child’s diet?

The dentist is able to offer advice and dietary counseling for children and parents.  Most often, parents are advised to opt for healthier snacks, for example, carrot sticks, reduced fat yoghurt, and cottage cheese.  In addition, dentists may recommend a fluoride supplement to protect tooth enamel – especially if the child lives in an area where fluoride is not routinely added to community water.

Parents should also ensure that children are not continuously snacking – even in a healthy manner.  Lots of snacking means that sugars are constantly attaching themselves to teeth, and tooth enamel is constantly under attack.  It is also impractical to try to clean the teeth after every snack, if “every snack” means every ten minutes!

Finally, parents are advised to opt for faster snacks.  Mints and hard candies remain in the mouth for a long period of time - meaning that sugar is coating the teeth for longer.  If candy is necessary, opt for a sugar-free variety, or a variety that can be eaten expediently.

Should my child eat starch-rich foods?

It is important for the child to eat a balanced diet, so some carbohydrates and starches are necessary.  Starch-rich foods generally include pretzels, chips, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Since starches and carbohydrates break down to form sugar, it is best that they are eaten as part of a meal (when saliva production is higher), than as a standalone snack.  Provide plenty of water at mealtimes (rather than soda) to help the child rinse sugary food particles off the teeth.

As a final dietary note, avoid feeding your child sticky foods if possible.  It is incredibly difficult to remove stickiness from the teeth - especially in younger children who tend not to be as patient during brushing.

If you have questions or concerns about your child’s general or oral health, please contact your dentist.

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Testimonials

I have been a patient of Dr. Jeffrey Weiner since 1981. His work is impeccable. He is meticulous and results focused. He is not happy unless you are happy. I have referred many patients over the year to his office. His staff is always accommodating and friendly. I have had to call him and his son Dr. Jason Weiner on weekends and holidays over the years for a dental emergency and they have both responded to me quickly and with concern and advice. I receive compliments every day about my smile and it is because of Weiner Dental.

Mary P., Bensalem, PA

I know from experience that patients at Weiner Dental are very fortunate in knowing that "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Dr. Jason Weiner is my primary dentist. He is not only adept in the painless and creative cosmetic work that he has performed on me, his easy manner and confident professionalism allays any anxiety that I may have about any dental problems. Having also been treated by Jason's father, Dr. Jeffrey Weiner, it is evident that a caring attitude and a healing aptitude has been passed on from father to son. That same demeanor seems to be instilled in everyone at Weiner Dental. I sincerely recommend the doctors and staff at Weiner Dental. I believe that they really care.

Edward M., Huntingdon Valley, PA

I have been going to Doctor Weiner for 30 years along with my wife and children. He has always given us the best of care. I do not know t oo many doctors who care so much that they call you at home to check on you. He cares about all people. When Dr. Weiner heard we were going to visit our daughter (who is a missionary in Jaraboca, in the Dominican Republic), he sent dental supplies for the folks down there. Most of them do not have the money for toothbrushes and toothpaste. If you could have seen the look of joy on their faces...it's hard to describe. And his son Jason is following in his father's footsteps. I not only feel like I have a great dentist but a good friend! Thanks Docs.

Robert B., Philadelphia, PA

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