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How to Prevent Tooth Decay

Posted on: March 19th, 2015 by Dr. Pat Weimer


So tempting, but so harmful to your teeth!

So tempting, but so harmful to your teeth!

In the second of his series of posts regarding children’s dental health, Dr. Weimer shares some insight from the ADA on how to reduce your child’s risk of tooth decay.  We live such fast-paced lives with our kids these days, that we sometimes forget the damage that can happen to a child’s tooth because of their nutritional choices.   The following article was shared by the ADA recently to promote Children’s Dental Health Month in February.

Many parents across the country will issue a common refrain at dinnertime tonight:  You’d better eat that, it’s good for you! There is another old favorite in the parental arsenal of dietary admonitions: Don’t eat that, it will rot your teeth! 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. Junk food and drinks have replaced nutritious beverages and foods for many people. For example, the average teenage boy in the U.S. consumes 81 gallons of soft drinks each year! Alarmingly, a steady diet of sugary foods and drinks can ruin teeth, especially among those who snack throughout the day. 

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 can not be completely eliminated from our diets. Many of these foods contain important nutrients and add enjoyment to eating, but contain a hidden risk for tooth decay from the 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.)

Reduce your children’s risk of tooth decay:

  • 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. (see our selection of xylitol sweetened gum at the office, which contains no artificial sweetners)

  • Monitor beverage consumption – Instead of soft drinks, children should choose water and or milk.

  • Help your children develop good brushing and flossing habits.  Two times/twice daily!

  • Schedule regular dental visits.

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