It’s National Children’s Dental Health Month! Our newsletter this month highlights the importance of dental hygiene and the role of nutrition in dental health. Here are some “warm-up” pointers to keep in mind:

  • Remember to book and maintain your child’s dental visits on a regular basis. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child go to a dentist by one year of age, or within six months after the first tooth erupts.
  • Talk and encourage conversations about teeth, toothbrushing and general oral health.
    • Use puppets with teeth and clean, unused toothbrushes with little ones to reduce any fears and make toothbrushing fun!
    • Help older children make their own daily schedule chart, and include reminders for brushing and flossing on a twice daily basis.
  • Prepare/offer tooth-healthy snacks and meals to increase your child’s knowledge and investment in their own health, oral and otherwise. Please see the article below for suggestions!

The Important Role of Nutrition in Oral/Dental Health: How to Eat Right for Your Teeth

Brush your teeth, twice a day: check. Floss every day (or at least regularly): check. Make regular 6 month visits to your dentist to receive cleanings, recommended treatments and x-rays: check. Despite the above precautions, many find themselves regularly checking off an unwanted box on their dental health checklist: Get fillings for those sneaky cavities that seemed to appear anyway. What gives?

It’s disheartening to feel like you’re doing everything right for your dental hygiene and that of your children, yet continue leaving dental offices with appointments booked for fillings and other dental work that you didn’t expect to have. This isn’t the case for everyone, of course. Some individuals seem to care for their teeth in a haphazard and inconsistent manner, yet have a clean bill of dental health. As in many life situations when habits don’t seem to match up with results, it’s time to take a closer look at other potential underlying issues.

One requirement that is not typically listed on our checklists of dental hygiene awareness or that is conveniently ignored when our sweet tooth kicks in is our awareness of the foods we are putting in our mouths and how it affects our dentition. We’ve heard time and time again that excess sugar will cause cavities, paying little attention as children and taking greater heed as adults, and so we take the known precautions: limit juice, candy, soda and sweets. And yet, sometimes these protective measures don’t seem to be enough.

Findings from the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, Dr. Edward Mellanby and Dr. May Mellanby among others have explored at length the link between nutrition and health. A plethora of documented research in dental and whole body health infers that sugar consumption makes up only part of the cocktail of detriments that can cause tooth decay. Other factors include:

  • A diet deficient in minerals, particularly calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus
  • Depletion of fat-soluble vitamins, namely vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Over consumption of foods containing phytates or phytic acid, which inhibit mineral absorption

If a body is deficient in minerals, it’s going to prioritize that minerals be sent to the most vital parts of it- namely, the brain, heart and bones. Teeth are not essential to human survival, making them unfavorable when it comes to mineral allotment. However, they are still living organs, and without appropriate, supportive levels of nutrition, they cannot maintain its inner and outer health.

In his research of dental health in cultures throughout the world, Dr. Weston Price discovered that many primitive cultures, whose diets consisted of a high level of fat-soluble vitamins and unrefined sources, exhibited healthier teeth and gums than more modernized cultures, whose diets were primarily made up of refined foods (i.e., white flour, vegetable oils, refined sugars).

This research ultimately outlines the main culprit of tooth decay as malnutrition, a dietary deficiency which can create a number of imbalances in the body and leave it vulnerable to the onset of disease. The following list of nutrients were determined to be critical for dental health in the research of Dr. Price and other renowned researchers in this field, including Dr. Edward Mellanby and Dr. May Mellanby. These nutrients, as well as the accompanying foods that contain them, are provided as a reference and should be considered a part of a nutritious, tooth-healthy diet:


  • Chia seeds
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Sardines/salmon
  • Beans/lentils
  • Almonds
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Rhubarb


  • Meats (e.g., chicken, turkey, seafood)
  • Grass-fed dairy
  • Pumpkin/sunflower seeds
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains

Vitamin A

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Dark leafy greens (e.g., spinach/kale/collard greens)
  • Liver
  • Salmon
  • Milk

Vitamin D

  • Sunshine!
  • Fatty fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, mackeral)
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Grass-fed dairy

Vitamin C

  • Kakadu plums
  • Citrus fruits (i.e., oranges, lemons, grapefruit)
  • Sweet yellow peppers
  • Chili peppers
  • Thyme
  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts

Foods high in Phytic Acid*

  • Beans (e.g., soy, pinto, navy, kidney)
  • Legumes (e.g., peanuts, chickpeas)
  • Grains

*It is important to note that non-sprouted beans, grains and legumes are considered high in phytic acid and are therefore recommended in limited quantities. When beans, legumes and grains are sprouted/soaked, an enzyme is activated that breaks down phytic acid, making it easier for bodies to absorb nutrients during digestion.

Ultimately, good nutrition is an essential component to the health of our bodies in a variety of realms, dental and otherwise. By examining our diets and the diets of our children with a careful eye and employing the knowledge of whole body dental health, it’s possible to reverse or reduce some of the negative findings often discovered in the dentist’s chair.

*Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical professional of this respective topic. Please consult with your own, trusted practitioner/s for a plan of care that is catered to your own needs and/or the needs of your child/ren.

Referenced Sources:

Wells, Katie. How to Remineralize Teeth Naturally & Reverse Tooth Decay. Wellness Mama.

The Real Cause Of Cavities & Demineralization + The Right Diet For Healthy Teeth. Traditional Cooking School.

What to do if your child with food sensitivities and refusals will not eat the recommended foods…

  • If your child has not yet been assessed by a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist or pediatric nutritionist, it is strongly urged that you seek the professional help of therapists that specialize in feeding, oral motor and/or nutrition to assess the root cause and participate in a plan of care to help increase your child’s intake of food.
  • If your child participates in feeding therapy but does not yet accept the foods recommended, attempt to provide this nutrition via other avenues (i.e., smoothies, supplements) under the careful recommendations and supervision of your child’s licensed providers.
  • Consider the possibility that food sensitivities may also be due to teeth sensitivity or decay. Children with these underlying issues may be bothered by certain tastes, textures and/or temperatures. Be sure to instill and monitor good oral hygiene on a daily basis, make regular oral health appointments and discuss any and all concerns with your dentist.

It can be an unrelenting cycle when working on improving the dental health of children who are picky or problem feeders. Decreased food consumption or consumption of low quality foods can lead to reduced intake of essential vitamins and nutrients, which in turn can create tooth decay and pain, resulting in further or enhanced food refusal. However, by working with specialists in dentistry, nutrition, speech-language and/or occupational therapy, nutritional gains can be made, allowing teeth to undergo a remineralization process that reduces or eliminates problematic tooth decay.

What to do when your child is terrified of the dentist and/or brushing his/her teeth…

  • Create/Read Social Stories

Social stories are wonderful tools to help ease a child’s anxiety about a variety of new experiences and worrisome transitions in life. Social stories, generally written in first-person form, are written so that children have the opportunity to put themselves in the perspective of the main character as they participate in an experience (i.e., visiting the dentist, riding on an airplane, becoming a big brother/sister, etc). It outlines the sequence of events that typically happen during the event, ultimately aiming to reduce the anxiety of the unexpected. You can create your own personalized social story for your child’s trip to the dentist by incorporating pictures of your child and even the dentist and the particular office you’ll be visiting (Google can likely make this all possible!)

Below is a social story written in the third-person provided by Education And that can be a helpful tool if you’re unable to create your own. Aim to read a social story each day, ideally at least one week prior to the approaching experience.

  • Read Books About Dental Health

There are a variety of books about visits to the dentist and/or dental health, so a great way place to begin increasing awareness of dental health and possibly reduce any existing uncertainties is your local library or bookstore! Among many titles are some suggestions, listed below. For those who prefer the comforts of online shopping, Amazon links are linked under each book.

Brush, Brush, Brush!
By: Alicia Padron

Curious George Visits the Dentist
By: Margaret & H.A. Rey’s

The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist
By: Stan and Jan Berenstain

Just Going to the Dentist
By: Mercer Mayer

The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums
By: Edward Miller

The Tooth Book
By: Dr. Seuss

Open Wide: Tooth School Inside
By: Laurie Keller

What to do if your child won’t tolerate a toothbrush anywhere near his/her mouth…

This is a fairly common difficulty noted in children with sensory processing difficulties. It likely accompanies other sensory concerns seen in children, and warrants an occupational therapy evaluation if it is negatively impacting the daily routines of your child’s life…and yours! Below are helpful references for parents who many be concerned about their child’s ability to cope with the sensory demands of their environment:

What You Need to Know About Sensory Processing Disorder, Children’s Therapy Connections


Red Flags for SPD, Star Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder