Oral Nutrition: A Summary
Whenever diets are talked about, especially in a preschool setting, often times it becomes a matter of fitness. Childhood obesity is a major topic in our nation, and it should be, no one is disputing that. However that doesn't mean it is the only topic that should be talked about. Oral health is another big issue that needs attention in our classrooms. It is estimated that a full one-forth of preschool aged children have some form of tooth decay, be it a small cavity here and there, or a much more dramatic loss of enamel.
It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that sugary foods and drinks are a major cause of these sorts of problems. Especially those containing sucrose, or white sugar, as it creates a sticky surface on the teeth for bacteria to stick to and eat away at the teeth. This in conjunction with acidic drinks like sodas can be a recipe for cavities when not properly taken care of. Which is another thing in and of itself. At their age, preschoolers may not understand the benefits of good habits like brushing their teeth, but that doesn't mean their importance should just be glossed over. Bad or hygiene, or general neglect to take care of teeth is a major source of tooth decay, especially when factoring all the sugary treats that may or may not be eating away at the teeth over the day.
There are things that can be done to prevent decay from happening. Beyond cutting out many snacks and drinks that are high in sugar, there are other things you can do that would give the preschooler's teeth a little boosted defense. For instance Calcium and phosphorus are both excellent minerals that help build strong bones and teeth. They help beef up the enamel's defenses and are both easily accessible through milk. Calcium is all over most dairy products, while phosphorus can be found in other foods such as oranges, cherries, or even meats and eggs. Vitamin D is also a major feel-good nutrient for bones and teeth, and while it can be...
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