National Children’s Dental Health Month

National Children's Dental Health Month

National Children’s Dental Health Month began as a single-day observance in Cleveland, and a weeklong observance in Akron, Ohio in 1941. Since then it has grown to a month-long event that is celebrated across the country.

Our goal for National Children’s Dental Health Month is to shine a light on the need for adequate dental care for all children, regardless of age, family income, and proximity to services.

This year the focus is on every dentist’s biggest nemesis: sugar.

Did you know that preschoolers, whose daily caloric intake should be between 1,200 and 1,400 calories, shouldn’t consume any more than 170 calories, or about 4 teaspoons, of added sugar a day? For children ages 4-8 with a daily caloric intake of 1,600 calories, no more than 130 calories, or about 3 teaspoons, is the right amount per day.

But the reality is much different. The average US child, age 1 – 3, consumes as much as 12 teaspoons a day, and the average child age 4 – 8 consumes as much as 21 teaspoons of added sugar daily.

While sugar itself won’t cause tooth decay, it does feed the bacteria in our mouths that do. Sugar and carbohydrates encourage the bacteria to multiply quickly and produce large amounts of plaque, which will ultimately lead to decay. 

But, this amount of sugar does more than harm your child’s chances of maintaining healthy teeth. Consuming almost triple the recommended daily amounts of added sugar puts children at risk for serious illness such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Even if you are careful about what you feed your kids, it can still be hard to keep high doses of sugar out of their diets. But where is all this sugar hiding?

Common culprits in hidden sugars include fruit juices, muffins and pastries (even whole grain muffins may contain as much as 38 grams of sugar), packaged oatmeal, peanut butter and jelly, and tomato sauce. All foods that kids generally love and parents typically approve of.

It’s a good idea to check labels and keep a running tally for how much sugar your kids are getting each day. And of course we recommend putting the 2 x 2 rule into effect: brush twice a day for two minutes each time.

With regular brushing and flossing, and a watchful eye on sugar consumption, you’ll safeguard your children’s overall health——including their dental health.

Call us whenever you have a question about keeping your kids’ teeth or your own in good health. We’re here to help your whole family keep your smiles for a lifetime.

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