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Sipping, Snacking and Tooth Decay

Many parents across the country will issue a common refrain at dinnertime tonight: "You'd better eat that-- it's good for you!" There's another old favorite in the parental arsenal of dietary admonitions: "Don't eat that-- it will rot your teeth!". Now more than ever, kids are faced with a bewildering array of food choices-- from fresh produce to sugar-laden processed convenience meals and snack foods. What children eat and when they eat it may affect no only their general health but also their oral health.

Americans are consuming foods and drinks high in sugar and starches more often and in larger portions than ever before. It's clear that "junk" food drinks gradually have replaed nutritious beverages and foods for many people. For example, the average teenage boy in the US consumes 81 gallons of soft drinks per year! Alarmingly, a steady diet of sugary foods and drinks can ruin teeth, especially among those who snack throughout the day. common activities may contribute to the tendency toward tooth decay. These include "grazing" habitually on foods with minumal nutritional value, and frequently sipping on sugary drinks.

Then sugar is consumed over and over in large, often hidden amounts, the harmful effect on teeth can be dramatic. Sugar on teeth provides food for bacteria, which produce acid. The acid in turn can eat away the enamel on teeth.

Almost all foods have some type of sugar that cannot and should not be eliminated from our diets. Many of these foods contain important nutrients and add enjoyment to eating. But there is a risk for tooth decay from a diet hight in sugars and starches. Starches can be found in everything from bread to pretzels to salad dressing, so read labels and plan carefully for a balanced, nutritious diet for you and your family.

Reduce your children's risk of decay:
-Sugary food and drinks should be consumed with meals.Saliva production increases during meals and help neutralize acid production and rinse food particles from you mouth.
-Limit between-meal snacks. If kids crave a snack, offer nutritous foods.
-If you kids chew gum, make it sugarless -Chewing gum after eating can increase saliva flow and help wash out food and decay producing acid.
-Help you children develop good brushing and flossing habits. Schedule regular dental visits.