Children's Dental care
Is Milk Important for Kids Teeth?
Alright, so let’s talk a bit more about how your baby’s choice of foods and drinks affects their dental health. Remember, we just want to ensure your child has the best dental health possible and guide you through the hurdles of parenting, or at least everything that’s related to helping your kid to have the smiles they deserve.
Everything we do here at Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry aims to help children maintain good oral health. There are many things working against that goal as so many products marketed for babies include excessive amounts of sugar that contribute to tooth decay.
Did you know that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 45.8% of all US children aged 2-19 years old suffer from some type of tooth decay? That’s almost half of all children.
How can we ensure our baby’s teeth are strong enough to resist these attacks from harmful bacteria? How can we help our children smile and have healthy teeth? Let’s examine all this.
Do Kids Need Milk?
Well, let’s try to break down this question into manageable parts.
If your question is related to breastfeeding, we should remind you that the World Health Organization does recommend that babies be breastfed for 6 months and gradually introduced to other foods after that time while continuing to breastfeed until the baby reaches their second year.
Certainly, this recommendation will vary from child to child. It’s up to you to determine when it’s been enough. Breastmilk contains all the nutrients your baby requires for their healthy growth throughout their first year, and as such, it’s crucial they receive it when required.
However, if you’re talking about animal milk, such as dairy products, then the answer becomes a bit more difficult.
Cow’s milk contains proteins, calcium, potassium, and vitamin B12, making it a nutritious complement to your child’s diet. Furthermore, commercial cow’s milk has an additional vitamin D and A boost. But is it necessary for your baby’s healthy growth? No.
Everything we listed above is readily available in other sources.
Cow’s milk is just a really affordable way to get some nutrients your child requires.
Some babies cannot drink cow’s milk, and we as parents should know what alternatives are out there to help our kids stay as healthy as possible.
Is Milk Important for Kids’ Teeth?
While milk is not necessarily the single most effective way to fight off any type of tooth decay in children, it’s not a harmful agent either. Many parents worry that, because milk contains a natural sugar called lactose, it can harm a baby’s teeth in the same way processed white sugar does.
Fortunately, that’s not the case. As many studies show, milk can have positive effects on your child’s teeth.
A protein called casein has derivative components that prevent tooth demineralization, enhance remineralization, and prevent cavities, a similar effect to the benefits of fluoride. We won’t bore you with the details, but these components can help prevent harmful bacteria from attaching to your baby’s teeth surfaces.
Milk Allergies and Lactose Intolerance
Good thing you ask. According to the NIH, about 36% of all citizens in the US have some type of lactose malabsorption. Talk to your child’s primary health provider to take the appropriate steps necessary to determine whether your child can or cannot drink dairy products.
Some children respond better to other types of milk, such as goat’s milk. The proteins in this type of milk are much easier to digest and won’t cause the same symptoms as those present in kids who accidentally drink cow’s milk.
Children who are unable to digest lactose due to congenital factors or following an infection could still drink lactose-free milk.
There are several plant-based beverages that serve as a partial substitute for milk. Think of beverages made with soy, oats, rice, coconut, cashews, and almonds.
Please remember some of the following recommendations when choosing an alternative to milk for your kid’s diet:
- Kids should NOT drink milk alternatives before 12 months.
- Avoid sweetened and flavored beverages.
- Carefully check any labels as nutrient content will vary from one manufacturer to another.
- Many plant-based beverages naturally lack the nutritional content of cow’s milk regarding protein, calories, and micronutrients.
- Choose alternatives fortified with Vitamin D and Calcium.
- Children should still take vitamin supplements of vitamins A, C, and D.
Your Alpharetta Pediatric Dentist
There are so many things we need to keep track of when helping our children stay healthy. There’s no way around it… or is there? Fortunately for all Alpharetta parents, Dr. Nanna Ariaban and the team at Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry like to keep track of every detail that makes up your child’s overall dental health.
It’s not an easy task, but it’s one we really like. Get in touch with us, set an appointment, and check everything you need to keep your baby smiling and healthy.