Healthy snacks are the way to go!

It has become more clear to us that in light of growing rates of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers (all of which may be linked to poor oral health, by the way), good nutrition is becoming a top priority in our society, particularly in the formative years. Yet, in our experience, those are the same years in which your children are likely to be toothbrushing-challenged and also the most finicky and fast-food crazed.

Quite a prospect! But from what parents tell us and from what we see in the dental chair, it’s not impossible. Mostly, it’s creating a common-sense plan and then sticking to it. A lot of this you know…

  • Choose a variety of nutritious foods from the major food groups
  • Some snacks are obviously healthier than others. Fresh veggies, yogurts, and cheese or dairy substitutes are better than those with high sugar content like candy or mints. A snack that is swallowed quickly, such as a drink, is better than one that sticks to the teeth. It seems obvious to avoid soft, sticky, sweet foods like caramels and jelly beans and beverages like soda, sweet teas, and juices.
  • You have to get into the habit of reading food labels if you want to choose foods and drinks that are low in added sugars which aren’t only found in pastries, cookies, candies, and soft drinks, but in just about everything these days.

As for advice about eating out and tips on how to get your child to eat healthier meals and snacks, there are many excellent and helpful books and magazines that provide child-friendly recipes, and of course, an abundance of information online.In fact, the sheer volume of information that’s published, even when it’s legitimate and scientific, can be confusing.

It helps to understand that tooth decay occurs when foods containing sugars and starches are frequently left on the teeth to form plaque, the sticky film of bacteria on your teeth that you can feel with your tongue. This can break down tooth enamel and cause cavities and gum disease unless it is removed by regular brushing and flossing.

So the common sense solution is to…

  • Limit the amount of decay-causing foods mentioned earlier.
  • Encourage your family to drink water instead of sugary drinks, sodas, or sports drinks, especially after a sweet or sticky snack. Keeping the mouth hydrated also promotes saliva which protects oral tissues.
  • Encourage tooth brushing using toothpaste twice a day and flossing once a day.
  • Visit us twice a year (unless an individual treatment plan indicates a higher frequency) to monitor oral health.If it’s been a while since you have had your family’s oral health assessed or if you feel you need some instruction on the best home routines for your children, I encourage you to call my office and depend on my team to help you out.

© Patient News

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Sodas, Sports and Energy Drinks

With summer finally having arrived, we will be seeing more children outside running around and playing sports. Keeping them hydrated during sports is important. With the popularity of sports and energy drinks, many of us will turn to those options to do so rather than a simple bottle of water. Sodas, sports and energy drinks can cause cavities, serious enamel erosion, and affect a growing child’s overall health.

We make it a point to caution our patients about the dangers of these beverages and sweet juices that are damaging to teeth. In the June 2011 issue of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks for Children and Adolescents: Are They Appropriate? It confirms that sports and energy drinks aren’t needed by children and that some of these products contain substances that can be particularly harmful to them. Let us quickly review the differences between the types of beverages as highlighted in the report…

Sports drinks are meant to replace water and electrolytes which can be lost during prolonged and strenuous sports and exercising – they are not intended to be an accompaniment to meals or consumed at recess. They contain carbohydrates, minerals, and electrolytes which at most levels of exertion are unnecessary. Since water is very effective for normal activity, really all kids are getting from sports drinks are extra calories and exposure to potential tooth decay and enamel erosion, especially if they are experiencing a dry mouth after exertion. (This is because saliva, a natural buffer, is not there to protect against the acids in the drinks.)

Energy drinks contain additional stimulants that are not found in sports drinks. These include caffeine (which has been linked to neurological and cardiovascular problems in children), guarana seed (a stimulant which contain up to 3x as much caffeine as the coffee bean), and taurine (an amino acid thought by some to enhance mental and athletic performance). Used singly these ingredients are not child-friendly, but used together in combination and in addition to sugar, it is clear that energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents.

To put the caffeine issue in perspective – true, it’s found in many beverages, including sodas. Yet according to the authors of the report, some energy drinks can have more than 500 mg of caffeine, which is the equivalent of 14 cans of soda!

Our recommendation? Encourage everyone in your family to drink water before, during, and after sports instead of sodas or power drinks. I know that for parents that can be more easily said than done, so if sodas and sports drinks are a big item in your household, we will be happy to discuss strategies to minimize their impact.

Enjoy the sunshine and we look forward to seeing you in the office,
Your Drummond Dental Team
© Patient News