According to the Centers for Disease Control, dental disease is one of the most common chronic illnesses among children and can lead to academic, physical, and social-emotional problems. Kids who suffer from dental issues often miss school and are more likely to have a below average grade point average compared to other students. Dental problems can also affect a child’s appearance and speech, taking a toll on their self-esteem. As a parent, you have the power to help your child develop healthy dental habits from an early age. Healthy habits along with regular dental visits help children to get a good start on a lifetime of healthy gums and teeth!
Most of us know that we need to brush our teeth at least 3 times a day or after eating. Brushing teeth helps to remove plaque which can lead to cavities and gum disease; however brushing alone is not enough to remove plaque located in places that cannot be reached by a toothbrush.
Let’s be honest, how many of us remember to floss on a daily basis? Flossing should take place at least once a day for two to three minutes each time to be most effective. In addition to preventing cavities and gum disease, flossing also helps to remove food particles stuck in teeth, polish the surface of the teeth and controls bad breath.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends flossing your children’s teeth as soon as they have two teeth that touch. Keep in mind that since children are still developing their fine motor skills, they will need assistance with flossing until they are 10 or 11 years old.
Your entire family can benefit from eating a variety of healthy foods from the five major food groups and limiting starchy foods and foods high in sugar. In addition to causing unhealthy weight gain, these foods increase the growth of bad bacteria in the mouth causing tooth decay and gum disease. Here are some ideas for healthy, tooth (and waistline) friendly snacks for your entire family!
- Low-fat yogurt and fresh berry parfait.
- Crunchy veggies with low fat dip.
- Celery sticks spread with cream cheese and sunflower seeds or raisins.
- Sliced cheese and apples.
- Unsalted almonds or other nuts.
- Hummus with veggies or toasted whole grain pita triangles.
Please also check out the following easy recipes!