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What Does it Really Take to be Cavity-Free?

August 17th, 2020

Dentistry has seen a lot of change over the last 100 years.

Expecting to eventually lose several (or all!) of your teeth was once the norm. Then preventive dentistry came along and the possibility of your teeth lasting a lifetime became a reality. . . .

So what does it take for the 21st century child to stay cavity-free? Surprisingly, just a few basic steps*:

  1. Follow a Healthy Diet
  2. Establish Good Home Hygiene Habits
  3. Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Healthy Diet**

Diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates create the prefect environment for cavities. Candy and sodas are obvious sources of sugar, but do you know how much sugar is lurking in your everyday foods? Processed foods that are marketed for children (ex: gummy snacks, crackers and chips, juice, breakfast cereals, granola bars, yogurts, etc.) tend to be high in sugars and carbohydrates. Bacteria in the mouth thrives on these substances, giving them plenty of cavity-making fuel.

Need help identifying unhealthy snacks in disguise? Check out this link for tips on decoding the jargon used on kid's food labels.

Whole grains, unprocessed fruits and veggies, and staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water instead of reaching for flavored drinks provides the best nutrition for your child's overall body health, including healthy teeth.

** Your pediatrician can help you plan an age-appropriate healthy diet to meet your child's developmental needs.

Home Hygiene

The dental hygienist cleans your child's teeth only twice a year - the other 363 days are up to you! Having a home routine is an important step in maintaining a clean smile. Tooth brushing should begin  as soon as the first tooth erupts, - yes, even babies need their teeth brushed! - and flossing should begin as soon as teeth are touching each other.

Brush the teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride toothpaste recommendations vary by age. Please ask your dentist what's best for your child at his/her next visit.

Regular Dental Visits

Visit your dentist every 6 months for a dental cleaning and check-up.

The focus of dentistry is prevention. Your board-certified pediatric dentist is specially trained to evaluate your child's mouth, teeth, and development. When issues are caught in the early stages, treatment is less complicated and has a higher rate of success. Your dentist also provides valuable cavity-preventing services such as fluoride treatments and sealants.

Every child's needs are different. Ask your dentist about the best strategy for staying cavity-free at your next dental visit.

 

*PLEASE NOTE: These 3 steps should be considered as basic guidelines for healthy teeth. Visit your dentist for a thorough evaluation on your unique cavity risk and a customized oral health plan that may include more than these 3 guidelines.

 

Sources:

Parents.com - Don't Be Fooled by These Misleading Labels on Kids' Foods

American Dental Association - Brushing Your Teeth

Dentalcare.com - Why a Regular Dental Check-Up is Important

Your Teeth on Juice

July 22nd, 2020

Juice is a staple in the American child's diet and it's very cleverly marketed to lead parents to believe that it's a convenient source of nutrients. What do the experts have to say about juice consumption?

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stated in 2017 that juice provides no nutritional benefit to children under age 1. For older children, the AAP advises avoiding juice because the high sugar content is a contributing factor to childhood obesity, diabetes, and causes tooth decay.
  • The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) agrees with the AAP's recommendation to avoid or reduce juice intake.
  • Children will readily drink juice and it is easy to over consume. Kids who fill up on juice miss the opportunity to eat other healthy foods.

Do you know how much sugar is in your juice?

Apple juice contains the same amount of sugar per ounce as Coca Cola! (Click HERE to see how much sugar your favorite snacks and beverages contain).

Diet is an important part of a successful oral health plan. Here are some frequently asked questions we have encountered with patients in our office:

What about unsweetened juices?

"Unsweetened" or "No Sugar Added" means that no additional sugar was added to the juice. Fruits used to make juice contain natural sugars.

Are organic juices healthier?

Organic fruits still contain natural sugars that can cause cavities.

My child loves juice and will be really upset if I take it away. What should I do?

Start by diluting your child's juice with a small amount of water. Over time, increase the water and reduce the juice until eventually your child is drinking water with a splash of juice. From there it is easier to offer plain water to drink.

Try flavoring plain water with slices of fresh fruit. Let your child get involved and add the fruits himself.

Does this mean fruits are bad for my child's health?

Fruits and veggies are an important part of a healthy diet and should not be eliminated. Whole fruits are much more nutritious than juices made from just the sugar and water of the fruit. Whole fruits contain fiber, are digested slower, and provide much better nutrition for the teeth and whole body. Click HERE for more info on making healthy food choices for your child.

 

Sources:

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry 

Choose My Plate 

Sugar Stacks

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