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The Field of Pedodontics and the Role of Food and Nutrition in Pediatric Dentistry.

Updated on June 5, 2020
ZahisthabegumR profile image

Zahistha is currently pursuing her Bachelor's in Food Science and Nutrition and is interested to create awareness to people about Nutrition.


In this very Modern era, many new changes are brought about, so does in the food pattern and lifestyle. It is very clear that it’s not just the adults are involved, but also toddlers and kids who are the active participants in this modern life race.

We can all see around kids having variety of foods, to be clear, junk foods and other appetite which do not fit to their category of consumption and are likely assumed to develop many other illnesses.

Also, in today’s world one such challenging field of health and medicine is the ‘Field of dentistry’. People are so unaware and unconcerned about their dental health that almost more than half of the population more or less have tooth decay and sensitivity as such.

So I combined this very two interesting field, highlighting toddlers and kids. It is very much important that from the very beginning stage they are given proper dental care and in very simple ways through giving nutritious foods.

This article is all about Pediatric dentistry, the dental problems faced by toddlers and kids and how they can be prevented or cured with nutritious food.

Let's build wellness rather than treating diseases.

— Dr. Bruce Daggy

What is Pedodontics?

Pedodontics (Pediatric dentistry) also spelled as Paedodontics involves the care and treatment of children’s teeth. It is one such important branch in the field of dentistry. The very basic practices involved in here are the treatments for tooth caries (tooth decay) and tooth alignment.

Lengthy treatments are also made to correct incipient abnormalities in tooth position. Even the usage of braces and other such correctional devices are involved.

We have 20 teeth!

  • There are 20 Primary teeth and they start appearing by the age of 3.
  • Baby teeth or Milk teeth or Temporary teeth or Deciduous dentition or Primary teeth involve 8 incisors, 4 canines and 8 molars.
  • First permanent canines appear between 9-12 years of age.
  • Premolars are not present. They appear as permanent teeth on 10-12 years of age.

Dental problems faced by children.

The common dental problems faced by children are as mentioned below:

  • Tooth decay,
  • Thumb sucking,
  • Tongue thrusting,
  • Lip sucking,
  • Early tooth loss,
  • Baby bottle tooth decay,
  • Bad breath,
  • Sensitive teeth,
  • Gum disease (Periodontitis),
  • Teeth grinding (Bruxism),
  • Canker sores, etc.,

From the above mentioned dental problems, nutrition related information are mentioned for Tooth decay, Tooth sensitivity, Bad breath, Gum disease and Canker sores. Let’s dive deep into the topic.

Tooth decay.

Tooth decay is known as the destruction or the breakdown of the tooth enamel. It is caused by the bacteria, where the foods containing Carbohydrates are left on the teeth and bacteria that usually lives in the mouth, transforms these foods into acids.

This combination of saliva, bacteria, food and acid results in plaque, which sticks to the teeth and further results in tooth decay.

Foods to fight Tooth decay:

  • Fibre rich fruits and vegetables- These include fruits and vegetables which are high in fibre content like Apple, Bananas, Orange, Berries, Sweet potatoes, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peanuts.
  • Apple is also called as ‘Nature’s tooth brush’ due to it’s high fibre content and also eating apple can keep your mouth fresh until you floss or brush the next time.
  • Foods rich in Calcium and Potassium- Cheese, chicken, meat, nuts and milk are said to have good amount of potassium and calcium, which brings about the remineralization process of the teeth.
  • Lactose intolerance: The term where, babies and kids who cannot absorb or digest lactose (milk sugar) from milk and milk products is called as Lactose Intolerance. In such case, Spinach and Broccoli, which are rich in calcium can be used as substitute food.
  • Firm/ Crunchy fruits like apple, pears have high water content, where the water can flush off the bacteria and other foreign substances and keep mouth fresh and healthy.
  • Citrus Fruits- Though Oranges and other citrus fruits are said to have good amount of Vitamins, the acidity level as to be taken into consideration. Grapefruit and lemon juice are said to have more acidic level and consuming them can drastically erode the tooth enamel.
  • Probiotics- Yoghurt, which contains probiotics is said to have good effect in fighting tooth decay. Probiotics can restore bad bacteria with good bacteria, which is not always achieved by traditional dental treatments. It is best suggested to give plain yoghurt than flavoured or sweetened one.
  • Beans- Beans like Kidney beans, Black beans and Pinto beans have good fibre content. 16 grams per serving of these beans are recommended for children.
  • Pear- It provides ample amount of Vitamin-C, Fibre and Cholesterol which is fat free. Vitamin-C helps in the good maintenance of teeth and bones.
  • Fluoridated water- Fluoridated water is always said to be effective in fighting tooth decay as it contains fluoride, which along with calcium and phosphorus forms ‘Fluoroapatite’, making the defence line much more strong.
  • The fluoride content in water should be 0.3ppm or less. If the fluoride value exceeds more than 0.7ppm, then there is a chance that a child develops ‘Fluorosis’.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics along with The American Dental Association and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agree that the Fluoridated water is safe for children and is effective to prevent tooth decay.

Tooth Sensitivity:

Sensitive teeth occurs as result of worn tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots, causing sensitivity or pain when on consuming cold or hot drinks, or while inhaling cold air.

Tooth sensitivity in children is caused due to one or more reasons. Some such causes are cavities, sinus issues, bad brushing, misaligned teeth and teeth grinding (bruxism).

Foods to fight Tooth Sensitivity:

  • Fibre rich foods- Celery, Carrots, Apple, Pear and other crunchy fruits and vegetables. Along with green leafy vegetables, fatty fish and meat.
  • Calcium- Milk and Milk products like cheese, spinach and green leafy sources and Sardines.
  • Eggs, which are said to be rich in protein, drops down the pH value which reduces the risk of increasing tooth sensitivity.
  • Vitamin-A & Vitamin-D: Foods like spinach, cod liver oil, sweet potato, broccoli, bell peppers, salmon and sardine, cheese are rich in Vitamin-A and Vitamin-D
  • Water- Drinking water throughout the day helps to wash away the remaining sugar and foreign substances in mouth and prevents sensitivity and other dental problems too.

Bad Breath:

Bad breath also known as Halistosis is noticed as distinct foul odour or stinky breath. This is a common phenomena in toddlers and children. The causes for bad breath in children are as follows:

  • Ingesting smelly foods like garlic, onions etc.,
  • Poor dental hygiene,
  • Dry mouth,
  • Cavities and
  • Presence of foreign substances.

Foods to beat the Bad breath:

  • Fibre rich foods -Fibre rich foods as mentioned in the previous ones, helps in secreting more of saliva which washes and cleanse mouth, fighting bad breath.
  • Apple- The Journal of Food Science, in one article mentioned that, ‘Apple help neutralize the bad breath and odours that is caused by raw garlic.’
  • Probiotic Yoghurt contains good bacteria, which fights off the harmful bacteria causing bad breath and other dental problems.
  • Parsley & Basil contains polyphenol, which has been widely found to improve remineralization, dentine health and also found to have antimicrobial properties. It can also be consumed as boiled and smashed or can also drink that boiled juice.
  • Tulsi also known as Holy basil contains Vitamin-K and many other potential vitamins, which fights bad bacteria causing bad breath.

Periodontal disease:

Periodontal disease also called as gum disease is a serious bacterial infection, which destroys the gums and the supporting structure of the teeth. It is mainly caused due to the plaque build up on the teeth.

Children usually acquire gingivitis, the milder form of this disease. Symptoms are red, swollen, sore gums. Gums may bleed when flossed or brushed.

Foods to fight Gum disease:

  • Vitamin-C – Blueberry, Tomatoes, Bell peppers, Broccoli, Sweet potatoes and Spinach.
  • Blueberry contains polyphenol which defend teeth against harmful bacteria.
  • Sweet potatoes are way more beneficial food than normal potatoes, as they contain Vitamin packed-starch, that is low in fat and high in nutritional value
  • Tomatoes are good source of Vitamin-C. Though it is not recommended for child of age 10-12 months. Bell peppers are also recommended to be given in well cooked state.
  • Vitamin-D – Milk, Egg, Fish like Salmon and Sardine, Cod liver oil are said to be rich in Vitamin-D
  • Cod liver oil, though it is recommended safe to consume under prescribed intake given by pediatrician, it still may have side effects like bad breath, heart burn, nosebleeds and belches that taste fishy (Fishy burps) . Also it contains high amount of Vitamin-A and Vitamin-D which further lead to many other health complications.
  • Antioxidant rich foods like berries, fish, green leafy vegetables like Kale, Spinach also improves gum health.
  • Peanuts, which contains Vitamin-D and Calcium are also said to have good improvement in gum health. It is better suggested to feed well cooked peanuts.

Canker sores:

Canker sores, also called as ‘Aphthous ulcer’ are small sores that happen inside the cheeks and lips and at the base of the gums or under the tongue.

Also children with Folic acid deficiency, Vitamin B-12 deficiency and Iron deficiency are said to develop canker sore more often than a normal child.

Canker sores are different from cold sores and they do not appear on the surface of lips and also they are not contagious. Anyhow, they develop pain while speech or when having food. Intake of spicy food and other irritation causing foods like crackers and crisps can also develop pain.

Foods to fight Canker sores:

  • Folic acid- Foods rich in folic acid like green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach), berries (strawberries, blueberries), Nuts (peanuts), help to overcome the folic acid deficiency in children and help to recover from canker sores.
  • Vitamin B-12- Fish, meat, poultry, egg, milk and milk products are said to have been rich sources of Vitamin B-12.
  • Iron- Liver, Beef, Salmon and Egg are the rich sources of Iron. Ground beef or well cooked beef or even mashed ones are suggested to be fed to toddlers and children.
  • Yoghurt is also recommended for consumption when having canker sores.
  • Drinking cold fluids such as water and also consuming popsicles are suggested when having these sores.
  • Avoid having citrus fruits, chocolates, spicy or salty foods and nuts, as they may cause irritation to the sores in mouth.

Recommended Dietary Values:

Every food need to be consumed in a certain level or quantity. Over-consumption or lesser consumption than needed leads to other health complications. Here are the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) Values for the food groups and for macro and micro nutrients mentioned below.

RDA Values for Food groups:

3-10 years of age (per day)
Half cup of cooked rice or cooked cereal.
One to One and a half cup. It should be soft and cut in small pieces.
One to One and a half cup
Milk and it's products
2 cups of milk, 1 cup of Yoghurt, half ounce of cheese
Meat and beans
1 ounce of meat, fish, One-fourth cup of cooked beans, One egg.

RDA Values for Macro and Micro Nutrients:

<3 years of age (per day)
4-14 years of age (per day)
1200-1300 mcg
800-1000 mcg
60-90 mg
50 mg
5-10 mcg
10 mcg
65-80 mcg
45 mcg
500 mg
1000 mg
7 mg
10 mg

Your body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.

— B.K.S. Iyengar


Thus, from the above mentioned details and information it is now as clear as day that anything and everything can be prevented earlier with the consumption of proper food. Also we are able to see how both the field of Pediatric dentistry and Nutrition goes hand in hand.

Also, eating proper and nutritious foods prevents us from getting into unwanted pain and treatments and surgeries. It is now foremost we are aware about the importance of consuming nutritiously rich foods and avoiding consumption of junk and unhealthy foods.

Furthermore, maintenance of dental health has also become an important factor to be considered to maintain a normal and healthy life. Awareness on dental health and diseases are needed amongst kids and teenagers to prevent acquiring serious dental issues in future.

Article by:

Ms.R.Zahistha Begum, I B.Sc Food Science and Nutrition, Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women. (Deemed to be University under category ‘A’ by MHRD. Estd. U/S 3 of UGC Act 1956). Re-accredited with ‘A+’ Grade by NAAC. Recognized by UGC under section 12 B. Coimbatore – 641043, Tamil Nadu, India.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 R Zahistha Begum


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