Monday, July 18, 2011

Healthier Diets = Healthier Teeth and Smiles!

Even though our public schools and many private schools have made extra efforts to incorporate healthier snacks and beverages into their vending machines, it is still our responsibility, as parents, to ensure our kids and young adults maintain healthy eating habits. This not only benefits their health, but it benefits our wallets and purses when we take them to the dentist.

In our last post, we pointed out the “Modern Warfare” that takes place in our mouths, daily. Plaque is a big factor, but we also have to worry about the dreaded “acid attacks” caused by food and beverages that contain a lot of sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. When these two worlds collide, and when plaque caused from bacteria meets the sugary content from foods, acid forms and attacks the teeth for 20 minutes or more, after it forms.

Over time, this process takes a toll on teeth and forms decay. Decay is the number one reason for most dental issues in young children, which is due to poor eating habits and bad dental hygiene. It starts when we are young and will continue until we change these habits. The natural wear on our teeth is hard enough to ward off with brushing and flossing, but bad diet is a big contributing factor for children and young adults ages 4-18.

So many of the things we eat and drink contain high levels of sugar, like: candy, desserts, cookies, energy drinks, sodas and soft-drinks, and even some items that are considered healthier, such as: juice and yogurt.

Unfortunately, many of the yummy snacks and drinks that our kids love to eat can cause early tooth decay.

As parents, we too may not have the healthiest eating habits. Sometimes, we may purchase grocery items that are not so good for us. Most kitchen cabinets, pantries and refrigerators are stocked with more sugary foods than necessary. When they are readily available, no doubt, they will be consumed by hungry people in a hurry. I

n addition, we may not have the time to prepare balanced meals, so our families may substitute with fast food and snacks that are less nutritious. And let’s face it, life is busy. We cannot always be there to monitor what our kids are eating and if they are brushing and flossing as often as they should.

Here is a great program for you to review featuring Arizona nutrition standards and guidelines, so you know what is being instituted to help schools and families:

The best way to help your kids understand the value of their health is to get them engaged. Here is another great get your children involved in understanding the importance of proper diet and choosing healthier foods This will be good for you, them, and your pocket-book in the future when you visit the dentist.

Here is a short list to post in a visible place to remind them daily:


* Brush twice a day – in the morning and at night. Your teeth will love you!
* Use fluoride toothpaste.
* Floss once a day to help your gums.
* Use mouth-guards when playing sports and rough activities.
* Drink more water and 2% milk and eat healthy snacks, like fruits, veggies and whole grain foods.