Good oral hygiene habits may be hard to teach to some children. And parents must teach them not only to eat healthy foods but also to eat foods that support their dental health.
Carrots provide one of the best dental-health boosts possible but may be hard for some kids to handle. Therefore, parents must understand why carrots are so healthy and then find ways to get their children to love them. Thankfully, multiple preparation methods are available to make carrots more palpable for a child's diet so that they can receive these benefits more easily.
How Carrots Help With Oral Health
Many dental experts state that carrots - and other hard, raw vegetables - are nearly as good as a toothbrush when it comes to cleaning teeth. Fresh and crunchy carrots provide a naturally abrasive texture that rubs against your teeth and breaks apart plaque, food particles, and bacteria. Carrots also stimulate the release of saliva, which helps to eliminate a large number of oral bacteria that brushing may miss.
Even better, carrots contain nutrients known as keratins. Keratins provide many health benefits, notably a boost to your fight against dental decay. Parents concerned about dental decay can give each child a handful of raw carrots as a snack between supper and bedtime and, combined with before-bed brushing, protect their teeth from severe cavities.
Why Cooked Carrots Don't Have the Same Effect
Cooked carrots may be easier than raw carrots for many children to eat. When cooked, carrots are tender, more comfortable to chew, and possibly flavored with butter. However, cooked carrots don't provide the same protective effect for a child's dental health.
First, the cooking process leaches nutrients, including the keratin that protects dental health. Second, cooked carrots lack the crunchy texture that makes raw carrots a great defense against plaque and bacteria. Thankfully, a transition to raw carrots from cooked carrots is possible by adding tastier - but still healthy - foods to their preparation.
How to Acclimate Children to Raw Carrots
Dips present children with a tastier way to eat carrots. The simplest dip is likely ranch, but it is also probably the least healthy. However, a little ranch added to raw carrots may make them more palatable for a young child. Later, parents can introduce more complex - and healthy - dips to a child's diet to transition them to raw carrots.
Guacamole provides a taste boost as well as five milligrams of vitamin E. A guac dip will also have fewer calories per cup than ranch. Other dips to consider include high-fiber parmesan dips flavored with different types of cheese. A high-fiber Parmesan dip provides healthy doses of fiber that may improve a child's dental health and promote a stronger digestion at the same time.
Once a child has grown used to carrots with dip, they can start eating them without dips. You may want to use an incentive program for children who struggle to eat raw carrots. For example, parents can give prizes, such as stickers or small toys, after children eat carrots without any dip.
Depending on what the prize is and how instant you need your child's gratification to be, you could give out the prizes after each helping of carrots or at the end of each day, week, or month. After enough time, a child's taste buds will acclimate and get used to the taste, and you won't need to give prizes anymore.
Parents concerned about their children eating enough teeth-friendly vegetables and other foods should contact Bay Pediatric Dentistry to learn more. Our dental experts can help to teach tips and tricks for presenting and serving carrots to children in a way that they enjoy and that can boost a child's dental health.