Modified: February 24, 2017 5:45pm
From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstei
Date: February 24, 2017
CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov
Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925
February is National Children’s Dental Health Month
Goal is to promote the benefits of good oral health for children
ERIE COUNTY, NY— February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. If you care for a baby or toddler, this is an opportune time to find answers to your questions about thumb sucking, a child’s first dental visit or how and when to clean a child’s teeth.
Parents should consult with their child’s dentist to learn about when children should have their first dental visit, ways to prevent early childhood caries (cavities), when to expect changes from primary to permanent teeth, proper brushing and flossing techniques, thumb sucking, dental sealants, choosing the right mouth protector for active children and adolescents, and teaching their children to say no to tobacco.
Parents should also be aware of the importance of regular dental examinations. “Children’s teeth are meant to last a lifetime, and a healthy smile is important to a child’s self-esteem. With proper care, a balanced diet and regular dental visits, their teeth can remain healthy and strong,” said Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health.
Americans are consuming foods and drinks high in sugar and starches more often and in larger portions than ever before. It is an unfortunate fact that sugar-laden food and drinks gradually 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. Common activities may contribute to the tendency toward tooth decay. These include ―grazing routinely on foods with minimal nutritional value, and frequently sipping on sugary drinks.
Burstein added: “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 it is strongly advised to read labels and plan carefully for a balanced, nutritious diet for you and your kids.
Here are some helpful tips to reduce your children’s risk of tooth decay:
v 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.
v Limit between-meal snacks. If kids crave a snack, offer them nutritious foods.
v 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. (Be sure to keep sugarless gums with xylitol away from your pets as it is toxic to dogs.)
v Monitor beverage consumption – Instead of soft drinks all day, children should also choose water and low-fat milk.
v Help your children develop good brushing and flossing habits.
v Schedule regular dental visits
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