Feb 10th, 2022

February is National Children's Dental Health Month brought to you by the American Dental Association (ADA). The Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center reminds parents that their children can avoid cavities. Brushing teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between teeth daily, eating a healthy diet that limits sugary beverage and snacks, and seeing a dentist regularly for prevention and treatment of oral disease are the keys to a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

Sipping & Snacking

What else can we learn about keeping your children's teeth healthy? Let's talk about sipping and snacking. 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. Does this sound familiar?

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.

"No one can take our smiles away when dental decay is kept miles away” ― Prof. Dr. Ninad Moon

Health Tips

To reduce help reduce your children's risk of tooth decay, a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Sugary foods and drinks should be consumed with meals. Saliva production increases during meals and helps neutralize acid production and rinse food particles from the mouth.
  • Limit between-meal snacks. If kids crave a snack, offer them nutritious foods.
  • If your kids chew gum, make it sugarless. Chewing sugarless gum after eating can increase saliva flow and help wash out food and decay-producing acid.
  • Monitor beverage consumption. Children should make healthy beverage choices such water and low-fat milk.
  • Help your children develop good brushing and flossing habits.
  • Schedule regular dental visits.
The Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center promotes good health and protects the county's public health. In that spirit, please take this month to think about the choices you make in your home and for your children. Let's follow the lead of the ADA and remember to prioritize healthy daily habits that will keep your children's dental health the best it can be. Happy National Children's Dental Health Month to you and your family!

*Sourcing: ADA.org