Shamrocks, Hoops and Home Improvement
- March 15, 2023
National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) began as a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 3, 1941. The American Dental Association held the first national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day on February 8, 1949. The single day observance became a week-long event in 1955. In 1981, the program was extended to a month-long
National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) began as a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 3, 1941. The American Dental Association held the first national observance of Children’s Dental Health Day on February 8, 1949. The single day observance became a week-long event in 1955. In 1981, the program was extended to a month-long observance known today as National Children’s Dental Health Month. Since 1941, the observance has grown from a two-city event into a nationwide program. NCDHM messages reach thousands of people in communities across the country and at numerous armed services bases.
Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. This basically comes down to good daily brushing habits, regular flossing and twice-yearly dentist visits.
Sipping, Snacking and Tooth Decay
Now more than ever, kids are faced with a bewildering array of food choices — from fresh produce to sugar-laden processed convenience meals and snack foods. What children eat and when they eat it may affect not only their general health but also their oral health.
Americans are consuming foods and drinks high in sugar and starches more often and in larger portions than ever before. It’s clear that junk foods and drinks gradually have replaced nutritious beverages and foods for many people. For example, in the U.S., on average, individuals consume approximately 50 gallons of sugary beverages per year! Alarmingly, a steady diet of sugary foods and drinks can ruin teeth, especially among those who snack throughout the day. Common activities may contribute to the tendency toward tooth decay. These include ― grazing habitually on foods with minimal nutritional value, and frequently sipping on sugary drinks. Consuming too much sugar can also affect your overall health, such as becoming overweight/obese, or getting heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
When sugar is consumed over and over again in large, often hidden amounts, the harmful effect on teeth can be dramatic. Sugar on teeth provides food for bacteria, which produce acid. The acid in turn can eat away the enamel on teeth.
Almost all foods have some type of sugar that cannot and should not be eliminated from our diets. Many of these foods contain important nutrients and add enjoyment to eating. But there is a risk for tooth decay from a diet high in sugars and starches. Starches can be found in everything from bread to pretzels to salad dressing, so read labels and plan carefully for a balanced, nutritious diet for you and your kids.
A Diet for Tooth Decay
Store shelves are lined with snacks that just aren’t the best idea for your children’s dental health. Doctors and dentists suggest shying away from packaged foods loaded with sugars, carbs and preservatives. Even so, there are a host of foods that seem outwardly healthy or benign that may still cause cavity-creating bacteria and plaque to form. Here are a few of the decidedly bad foods/drinks for your teeth that should be consumed in moderation and followed up with a good brushing!
– Gummy and Chewy Candies: When sugar comes in contact with the enamel, the decay process begins almost immediately. Prolonging that contact will go a long way to help bacteria and plaque linger. Sticky candies cement sugar to teeth, hastening tooth decay. Sour gummies are the worst culprits since they are coated with sugar to begin with!
– Crackers and Chips: It’s not just sugar that’s bad news. Chips and crackers are loaded with carbohydrates. These turn into sugar thanks to enzymes in saliva, and like gummies, they can stick to teeth for extended periods. Definitely consider brushing after chowing down on your favorite chips — especially Goldfish.
– Soda and Dark Colas: With corn syrup as one of the predominant ingredients, sodas are something to be avoided if possible. Because they’re liquid, sodas can get in between teeth in ways that other foods can’t.
– Sports/Energy Drinks: It may seem counterintuitive, but thirst quenchers are not health supplements. Sugar is the source for the energy in these drinks, and the acidity will eat away at enamel if parents and kids aren’t careful. While electrolytes may be helpful, tooth decay definitely isn’t!
Talk to your dentist for more information. If your child has not had a dental examination, schedule a well-baby checkup for his or her teeth. The American Dental Association says that it is beneficial for the first dental visit to occur before the child’s first birthday.