February 11, 2013
Each February, the American Dental Association sponsors National Children's Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.
What and when children eat may not only impact their general well-being but their oral health as well.
Americans consume foods and drinks that are high in sugar and starches, and in larger portions than ever before. For many people, junk food and sugary drinks have replaced nutritious beverages and foods.
Studies have shown that the average teenage boy in the U.S. consumes 81 gallons of soft drinks each year. A steady diet of sugary foods and drinks can ruin teeth, especially among those who eat snacks throughout the day.
Sugar on teeth provides food for acid-producing bacteria. That acid can eat away the enamel on teeth. Those whose diets are high in sugars and starches are also at an increased risk for tooth decay. Starches can be found in everything from bread, to pretzels and salad dressing. It's best to read nutrition labels and plan your meals ahead for a balanced, nutritious diet for you and your family.
Fluoride also plays an essential role in protecting and strengthening teeth.
Most tooth enamel begins with a very high concentration of fluoride in its outer layers, but the fluoride can dissolve over time. So whether ingested through fluorinated beverages or applied topically with toothpaste, rinses or treatments, replenishing fluoride is one of best ways to strengthen tooth enamel and helps resist acids that can lead to cavity production.
Follow these tips for better dental health:
-- Brush two times per day using toothpaste with fluoride.
-- Floss at least once a day.
-- Cut back on sugary items, including soda, juices and candy.
-- Choose healthy snacks, such as fruits, vegetables and popcorn.
-- Wear a mouth guard when playing sports.
-- Visit your dentist every six months for a check-up and cleaning.
-- Wipe your baby's gums daily with a clean damp washcloth.
-- Bring your child for a check-up six months after the first baby tooth appears. It's also a good idea to start brushing at this time.
--Do not allow your infant to use the feeding bottle as a pacifier, unless it contains only water.