The Tooth Is; I love you! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Day is associated with hearts, flowers, cards—and sweets. Let’s talk about what to think about when receiving and giving Valentine’s sweets. Since it is Children’s Dental Health Month, the focus will be on how we can help prevent cavities for children during the holiday. Here are some tips on maintaining healthy teeth, even when consuming sweets.

Sweets and cavities

Cavities are a leading chronic condition affecting children in the United States (CDC, 2019). Frequent consumption of sweets, i.e. sugar, is a big risk factor for cavities. Continually snacking on sugary treats provides the bacteria in your mouth with a never-ending food source, allowing them to repeatedly produce acid. When your mouth does not have a chance to recover and bring the acidic pH back to a neutral state, there are constant acid attacks on your teeth, weakening the enamel and causing those unwanted cavities.

Cavities often develop between the teeth and in the presence of deep grooves. Pain from cavities can affect a child’s ability to eat, speak, and even how they learn in school. Concentrating while having a toothache is difficult, and those with poor oral health often miss more school (CDC, 2019). “About 1 of 5 (20%) children aged 5 to 11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth” (CDC, 2019).

Tips on Valentine’s Day sweets consumption: Limiting the number of times your teeth are exposed to sugar throughout the day, for instance only mealtime, allows your mouth the time it needs to return to a healthy state. Continually snacking on sugary treats throughout the day allows the bacteria in your mouth a frequent food source, and acid is then repeatedly produced. Again, limit sweets to mealtime.

Tips on snacking: Children love snacks between mealtimes, as they are growing and may feel hungry or thirsty. Choosing healthy snack options for your child is ideal. Only allow water between mealtimes. The sugars from juices will sit on the teeth and promote an environment for cavities to form. Choose snacks that don’t “stick” to the teeth. Try nutritious snacks like cheese, nuts, crunchy apples or carrots. Limit snacks like crackers and chips that are comprised of carbohydrates, which have sugars that are a food source for cavity causing bacteria.

Healthy habits are formed the same way as unhealthy ones—though practice. Your children will do what you do and together you can create long-lasting healthy habits.

TePe hopes these tips during Valentine’s Day are helpful!

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