Did you know that today’s children run a higher risk of developing/experiencing tooth decay than ever before? According to Parents Magazine, “At least 4 million preschoolers suffer from tooth decay -- an increase of more than 600,000 kids in the last decade”. The spike in tooth decay problems in children stems from an overlooked factor in oral hygiene—their diet.
Children (and oftentimes adults) find sweets irresistible. But diets high in sweets, carbohydrates, and sugar put your child at risk for developing cavities at an early age. According to USA Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that “tooth decay remains one of the most common diseases of childhood — five times as common as asthma, and seven times as common as hay fever”.
To prevent your child from developing cavities at an early age, take these preventative measures:
- When picking snacks for your children, remember this general rule: If it is sticky, it will stay in their mouth for hours. Look for foods that dissolve easily instead.
- Avoid sweet, sticky, and starchy foods between meals. This reduces the likelihood of plaque forming in between brush-times.
- Reserve “fun foods” for special occasions. Not only will this prevent cavities, but your child will also develop a preference for balanced nutritional meals over time.
- Some safe snack time food examples include cheese, fresh fruits, veggies, yogurt, nuts, plain milk, rice cakes, cheerios, crackers, and oatmeal.
- Try to keep your child away from cavity-inducing snacks such as dried fruits, chewy fruit (Fruit Roll Ups), sweetened juices, soft drinks, chips, sticky candies, cakes, cookies, sports drinks, chewy granola bars, sugary cereals and flavored milks.
- Instead of gummy vitamins, consider giving your children hard chewable vitamins or vitamin drops after dinner, so that you can brush and floss your child's teeth shortly afterwards.
- Also, beware of foods that contain "sugarless" or "sugar-free" labels. Though these foods lack sucrose, more commonly known as table or white sugar, they can include other types of sugar in disguise. Keep an eye out for corn syrup, fructose, corn sugar, mat, glucose, maltose, corn sweetener, high fructose, sorbitol and lactose ingredients.
Tooth decay is preventable. Monitor your child’s diet to reduce his or her chances of developing cavities. Maintaining healthy nutritional habits will also prevent your child from developing diabetes, obesity, and a myriad of other health-related issues.
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