Once your teeth are gone, they’re gone. You can’t get new real ones at a store and Santa can’t bring them for Christmas. The Tooth Fairy takes away the first set, then later, neglect and heredity can be responsible for the second ones disappearing.
Just because Uncle Jake and your father had bad teeth is not a reason you’re going to have them too. Back in the old days, when your ancestors were kids, we didn’t have fluoride and didn’t know what to eat and what not to eat for dental health. Now we do.
Kids’ diets should be high in calcium, fluoride, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Lay off too much sugary food. In the dark ages (when I was a lad), people thought little boxes of raisins were just the thing for dessert with a bagged school lunch. Doting Moms made sure we had them often. No one realized the sugary fruit stuck to all the nooks and crannies of young teeth like butter to English muffins and did its dastardly work on enamel. Dental floss? What was that? Now we know better.
Milk and dairy products are the easiest way to get calcium. Pour a glass and drink it. Who doesn’t like milk? Oh, you have two boys and a girl who think milk is just for calves? A little chocolate syrup or cocoa can help it get down. Milk is fortified with vitamin D and calcium needs it as a partner to work well in our bodies.
Once past the child stage, we don’t need a lot of fat so skim milk and low-fat products are best. That goes for cheese and yogurt too. Start the family’s day with a good-for-your-teeth rush: a bowl of cereal and milk, or yogurt and granola or fruit. If there is just no time to sit and eat, a chunk of cheese on the go or a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice is good.
We need vitamin C too, because it strengthens blood vessels and connective tissue in the gums that hold teeth in place. Look at the “Best Foods for . . . ” list. Can you see where this is going? Take some from the top, some from the middle, and some from the bottom for optimum good-for-your-teeth nutrition.
Make the whole family happy with a pudding made with milk and yogurt topped with chopped strawberries and raspberries (or whatever berries are on sale).
A quiche is nothing but a custard with a French accent. Beat some plain yogurt into the milk and egg mixture, add grated Cheddar cheese and top with sliced tomatoes. You can leave the tomatoes out if you don’t like them. Or add cooked broccoli or cauliflower flowerets instead. Cut calories by baking the quiche in small bowls instead of a crust.
Beans are calcium winners. Make a thick soup of beans and whatever you like for flavor in meat stock and when they are done, mash some of the beans against the side of the pot. Now add strips of kale and let the greens cook. Just before serving, pour in milk (evaporated is best) stir and let it heat through and get smooth. Leftovers are better than the first day.
Burritos made with lime-enhanced corn tortillas let you take calcium with you by the handful. Wrap cooked egg, pico di gallo, tofu, and beans and you’re ready for a healthy day.
article by TRENT ROWE
Trent Rowe is the food editor of Central Florida Health News.