It is amazing just how many options are available when it comes to feeding your children. Ideally, we’d all like to serve our kids the healthiest meals, snacks, and drinks available. However, there are a host of negative choices that compete with the positive effects of a proper diet. Sadly, those bad options tend to win and then have a negative impact – not only on your kids’ general health but, on their oral health as well.
Unfortunately, sugar-filled food and beverages have become the standard where nutritious ones once were. The average American diet has gone from balanced, properly proportioned healthy meals to consuming extra large quantities of unhealthy food and drinks containing high amounts of sugar. To demonstrate, in the U.S., it’s estimated that a person drinks about 50 gallons of sugary drinks every year. Add this to all-day snacking on low nutrient, sugar-filled foods, and these harmful habits help promote tooth decay for both you and your kids.
The World Health Organization recently researched oral health and came to some surprising – and troubling – conclusions. They found that:
- Mouth or tooth disease affects close to 3.5 billion people worldwide
- Severe gum disease, which often leads directly to tooth loss, is incredibly normal; in fact, close to 10% of the entire global population is affected
- Treatment for oral health issues is, unfortunately, very expensive; it is rarely covered in standard healthcare plans and can contribute to upwards of 20% of overall out-of-pocket healthcare spending a
- Most oral health issues can be prevented if caught early on
It is also interesting to note that prevention can substantially lower the risk of developing even minor gum disease or mouth disease. Eating a balanced diet and reducing access to sugar can definitely help minimize ongoing risk levels, especially in children.
The Types Of Food We Eat Matters
While containing important nutrients, many foods we give our children, such as fruit, bread, and dairy, also naturally contain sugar. Consuming normal, balanced amounts of these foods won’t usually cause a problem for your kids’ teeth. However, apart from eating these good-for-you foods, when our children consume large amounts of sugary snacks and beverages they are creating a feeding ground for bacteria on their teeth.
These bacteria produce acid and it eats away at their tooth enamel. Once the enamel is attacked, then full-on decay may occur if left unchecked. In addition to brushing, flossing, and using a fluoride-based mouth rinse, reducing, or ideally, eliminating, high sugar foods and drinks from your children’s diet makes such a difference in tooth decay prevention.
Suggestions To Help Reduce Children’s Risk Of Tooth Decay
- Sugary foods and drinks should be decreased or preferably, eliminated from your child’s diet.
- Limit in-between-meal snacks. However, if you do give your children a snack, offer them healthier options like apple slices, carrots sticks, or cheese squares.
- Choose sugarless gum instead of sugar-filled. Chewing sugarless gum after consuming a hearty meal can increase saliva production and can reduce stuck-on food and excess acid – both of which contribute to tooth decay.
- Instead of sugary juices and sodas, opt for healthier drinks for your kids like low-fat milk and water.
- Model excellent oral hygiene and teach your children overall oral healthcare habits including brushing, flossing, and mouth rinse.
It is not always easy to complete with the tantalizing, sugar-filled food and drinks that are widely available to our children. Ultimately, though, we can make healthier choices for our families in order to care for their well-being and this includes their teeth. Maintaining positive habits like trading grape soda for grapes truly helps to make a significant impact on your children’s oral health care.