The relationship between nutrition, bone and tooth development

The relationship between nutrition, bone and tooth development

Expert Stories | Mrs. Shayana Ameresekere MHumNutr (Aus) RNutr(Aus) Nutritionist

Nutrition has a major role in the development of dental tissues and skeletal growth. Nutrition is a primary contributor to the establishment of an oral environment compatible with good dental health. (S. Ameresekere, 2021). Dietary factors, together with microbial ones, influence the oral disease processes to a large extent, depending on the quality, quantity, and frequency of foods consumed by a child. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).

The growth and development of the human skeleton also requires an adequate supply of many different nutritional factors such as phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, protein, folate, calcium and vitamin D. ( Classical nutrient deficiencies in the above are generally associated with stunting, rickets and other bone abnormalities which can also take affect in later years of the child’s life. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).

Tooth Development:

Nutrition is of special relevance to oral tissue development for children, not only because of their own nutrient requirements, but because nutrients come in contact with these tissues twice: once when foods are masticated and ingested and secondly, after foods are digested and nutrients absorbed, these return to nourish the tissue via the circulatory system. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).

Key nutrients:

Essential nutrients for tooth development are calcium, vitamin C and vitamin D, where calcium and vitamin D work hand in hand to protect and maximise  tooth density. (

Sources of nutrients: Dairy is the main source of calcium for most children such as cheese, milk and other dairy products. Dark green vegetables such as kale, spinach and broccoli are good vegetarian components with a higher calcium rating. Vitamin D is predominantly supplied via sun exposure, early to mid-morning sunlight for 10-30minutes a day is enough to provide sufficient vitamin D for your child’s nutrient requirements. (

Vitamin C strengthens your gums and the soft tissue in your mouth. It can protect against gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, and assist with the strengthening of enamel.

Good sources of vitamin C are; strawberries, papaya, mango, citrus fruits such as oranges, narang and local oranges, bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts and potatoes. Two to three servings a day of the above foods are sufficient for adequate supply of vitamin C. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).

Bone development:

Calcium, vitamin D and magnesium are key bone health nutrients that require special attention to ensure that you meet your daily requirement. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).

Although many foods contain calcium, dairy products provide the most calcium per serving size. Daily requirements for calcium change with age but for the age group of 7-12 years a daily intake of 1000-1300mg is recommended. (

Magnesium allows for proper calcium and vitamin D regulation and is found in many foods. Green vegetables such as kale, bok choy, okra (also known as ladies fingers), seeds such as; poppy, sesame and chia seeds. Nuts, legumes, whole grains and avocado are also good sources of magnesium. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).

Phosphorous, potassium and vitamin A have also been proven to be beneficial for bone health.

Phosphorus is important for neutralising acidic foods that could otherwise be harmful to bone development.

Phosphorus can be found in protein foods such as soybeans, fish, meat, milk, eggs, legumes and whole grains. (

Potassium also assists in the neutralisation of acids that come from the body’s metabolic processes and can be found in most fruits, vegetables, shell fish, beans and whole grains.

Vitamin A influences bone-building cells called osteoblasts. The daily recommended intake of vitamin A can be found in; sweet potato, spinach, carrots, eggs, mangos, cantaloupe and beef liver. (S. Ameresekere, 2021).

A child’s diet paves the path for healthy growth and development. Knowing the correct nutrients and sources of nutrients allows you to provide the best platform for optimal growth and development.