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Diet And Parental Vigilance Imperative to Improving Children’s Dental Health

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Improving Children's Dental Health

Diet And Parental Vigilance Imperative to Improving Children’s Dental Health

June 25, 2007
By: Meredith Fairbank for Dental1

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found an astonishing increase in tooth decay for two to five year olds as compared with just a decade ago. These findings are all the more striking because the dental health of Americans has improved for all other age groups, and because it marks the first time since the 1960s that Americans have seen a decline in the dental health of small children.
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Food and Drink Guidelines for Your Children’s Healthy Teeth
  • Soda and refined sugars are highly damaging to teeth. Forgo them as much as possible.
  • Give kids no more than 4 oz. of sugary juices per day.
  • Allowing small children to sleep with bottles filled with anything but water is like asking for tooth decay. The same applies to sippy cups and sports bottles for older kids.
  • For infants, teething pain can be reduced by wiping gums to keep them free of plaque and bacteria.
  • Because cavities can form quickly, children should see a dentist within a year after their first teeth have come out.
  • Model good eating habits and good dental hygiene for your children.

  • The report's findings come after the highly-publicized case of an uninsured 12-year-old boy who died in February when bacteria from an abscessed tooth spread to his brain. His family could not afford dental care.

    The sad truth is that increasing numbers of children are not covered by dental insurance even as feasting on sugary snacks, sodas, gum, candy and sugary juices has become the cultural norm. Within a generation, soda and candy machines have become ubiquitous in schools.

    The increase in tooth decay is likely linked to increases in other health problems that are caused by a poor diet as well, such as the obesity epidemic. Diseases traditionally associated with aging, such as type 2 diabetes – also called “adult-onset” diabetes because it was once only seen in adults in their 40s and 50s – are now being seen in children for the first time.

    Here are a few things you can do to ensure that you children’s teeth are well cared for:

  • Brush your children’s teeth for them until they have the fine motor skills to be able to tie their own shoes. Some dentists recommend brushing their teeth until they are eight years old.
  • To brush a child’s teeth, stand behind the child and support his or her head by leaning the child against your body. Use a scrubbing motion that begins at the base of the tooth where it meets the gum.
  • Make brushing fun by using their favorite toothpaste, etc. Explain to them the importance of good dental hygiene.
  • Use as big a brush as is comfortable. The Oral-B children’s toothbrushes are excellent.
  • Be careful not to use too much toothpaste. Use just a BB-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Brush teeth immediately, preferably within 20 minutes after meals.

    Remember that you are instilling habits for a lifetime and healthy teeth are important to the overall well-being of every child. Tooth decay, after all, is one of the more preventable diseases.

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