Healthy Teeth, Happy Child – Dr. Hans Petersen

CLoseup portrait of happy  white mother and young daughter - isolated. Happy family people concept.

Dental caries, or tooth decay, is the number one chronic infectious disease affecting children in the United States.  When bacteria has access to sugars, it produces acid that breaks down teeth, forming cavities.

Although it is a common and destructive disease, dental caries is highly preventable.  The best prevention is aggressive daily oral hygiene.  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that children brush their teeth every morning and every night.  They should be supervised and assisted by their parents until they are at least eight years old.  Children should also floss daily, beginning as early as two years old.

A child’s diet plays a large role in dental cavities, and therefore the prevention of cavities.  It is a common understanding that sugar is the source of energy for cavity-creating bacteria.  What most people forget is that a lot of “healthy foods” contain natural sugars that can be broken down and used by bacteria.  Here are a couple of helpful hints to follow:

  1. The stickier the snack or treat, the harder on the teeth
  2. It’s not how much sugar they get but how often they get it—meaning avoid snacking throughout the day, and especially bottles or sippy cups through the night.

These are a lot of “what not to do’s.” Some “to do’s” are:

Drink lots of water.  Water is the only liquid that doesn’t have the potential to cause cavities.  It can also help “wash” the teeth throughout the day when you don’t have access to brushing after each snack or meal.

Snack smart. Vegetables are healthy snacks that don’t have a lot of natural sugars.  We can’t expect children to never eat candy, but it’s important to limit the types and frequency…(read the rest of the story)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

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