DocSmo, your pedcast host: you know, those practical, portable mp3s that help educate parents on a vast variety of parenting topics from conception to confirmation. Let me remind you that by listening to this pedcast, you are agreeing to my terms and conditions posted on my website. I am probably not your child’s doctor, so for specific advice with regards to your child, please consult the wonderful person you call your pediatrician.
Today’s topic is a big one…the number one chronic disease in children: dental decay. Healthy gums and teeth important for long term health. Many experts now think that heart and blood vessel disease that lead to heart attacks and strokes may be caused by poor dental hygiene. Even Alzheimer’s has been implicated in the dirty mouth paradigm.
When I was child, I used to get sugarcane stalk to chew on all day; dental visits were terrible. I have memories of dinner table discussions between my parents about what causes cavities. 4 kids, and expensive dental visits got them thinking hard! They didn’t know that sugars in the mouth cause most decay. They were busy giving me 5 cents to go to Fred’s Fruit Stand to get sugarcane to chew on all day! Isn’t that ironic.
We know what causes dental decay now: Strep Mutans- bacteria that ferments sugars into acids which melt the enamel off your teeth. Diet has a lot to do with this process: frequent exposure of teeth to sugars is a recipe for decay. The longer sugars are in your child’s mouth, the worse the decay. Some children are lucky and get really good enamel, but not most.
Word is out about stopping the bottle by 1 and no bottles in the bed; now we have sippy cups that do the same thing. ”But I dilute the juice doctor”, I can hear the parents say. Remember, bacteria don’t need a lot to eat; even very dilute sugar can get them going and destroy your child’s dental enamel in a flash.
While we are on the topic of nutrition, here are some easy things you can do to reduce dental decay in your children.
- Make sure your children brush their teeth at least twice per day when they are old enough.
- Use flouride toothpaste when they are old enough to spit it out and not eat it.
- In between meals, drinks should only be water. No dilute juice, soda, tea, or anything with sugar in it including milk.
- Snacks should not be sugary or sticky; sugary and sticky is the worst (Ex: candy, soda, sugar gum, gummies including vitamins). Instead, give them dental healthy snacks- popcorn, nuts, cut up veggies or fruit.
- If your child is old enough, chewing sugar free gum after meals and snacks is great for your teeth…pulls out plaque and bacteria from creavices
- At Halloween when they have all that candy, let them have fun for a set period of time and then remove the candy. Their slow enjoyment could be very expensive when the dental visit time comes around.
Sounds like little things, but following these guidelines could really improve your child’s health and save you a small fortune in dental bills.
I hope you learned a little something from that discussion of dental decay. Fast, practical and portable are always my goal. If you like what you hear, invite your friends to listen. And make sure you subscribe on iTunes or at my website, www.DocSmo.com by simply hitting the RSS feed button and signing up; a free pediatrics degree is here for the taking. Please feel free to send comments to my blog. I will try to answer comments and post interesting thoughts.
This is Dr. Paul Smolen broadcasting from beautiful studio 1E, that’s first child’s bedroom, east side of the house, hoping that you don’t delay protecting your child from dental decay!
Until next time
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