Combatting Tooth Decay: Three Ways to Help Kids Get a Passing Grade in Oral Health this School Year

Posted on August 17, 2015

OAK BROOK, Ill.Aug. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As a new school year begins for students across the nation, many parents may be thinking about school supplies, earlier bedtimes, and homework. But with tooth decay being one of the most common diseases among children, Delta Dental is reminding parents of three key items that shouldn't be overlooked when preparing kids for a healthy and successful school year:

  • Schedule a back-to-school dentist visit. More than 30 percent of parents report their children between the ages of six and 12 missed school due to an oral health problem. Head off dental issues that may distract your child from learning and cause missed class time by scheduling regular dentist appointments for check-ups and preventive care.

  • Encourage children to practice good oral hygiene habits every day. Brushing gently for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste should be part of their morning and bedtime routines, along with flossing at least once a day.

  • Pack healthy school lunches. Quick swaps to cut down on sugary lunchbox standards include:

    • Whole wheat bread instead of white bread

    • Multigrain crackers instead of potato chips

    • Apple slices instead of cookies

    • White milk or water instead of fruit juice

    • Mini carrots instead of candy bars

    • Low fat yogurt instead of chocolate pudding

    • No sugar added jelly instead of regular jelly

    • Grapes instead of raisins

    • Fresh fruit instead of pre-packaged fruit cups

    • Hummus instead of store-bought ranch dip

"Eating too much sugar at lunch time, or at any meal throughout the day, is bad for kids' oral and overall health and can leave them feeling sluggish or struggling to focus on school work," said Dr. Bill Kohn, Delta Dental Plans Association Vice President of Dental Science and Policy. "By making simple changes to school lunches, scheduling regular check-ups with the dentist, and teaching kids the importance of incorporating brushing and flossing into their daily routines, parents can help kids establish and maintain a lifetime of good oral health."

Tooth decay, which is largely preventable, remains one of the most common chronic diseases for children — five times as common as asthma, and seven times as common as hay fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Parents can get their children involved in making sure each of these healthy steps are completed throughout the school year by sharing tips from Delta Dental's Grin! for Kids magazine with them.

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