Dr. David Moore’s job as a pediatric dentist- someone who helps children achieve and maintain healthy smiles- goes beyond office visits twice a year. To that end, he works to provide education to patients’ parents through social media, his office blog, and other publication or media opportunities.
This month, it’s important to acknowledge the theme of National Children’s Dental Health Month, sponsored by the American Dental Association, along with the ADA Foundation. The slogan for the 2017 campaign is “Choose Tap Water for a Sparkling Smile."
Juice, soda, chocolate milk, and other carbonated beverages are often the choices that many kids will make if given the freedom to do so. However, educating kids (and parents) on the damage those drinks can cause is one step in helping kids to make better decisions.
Some of the benefits of choosing water over other drinks include:
The American Academy of Pediatrics has made several recommendations regarding juice and other beverages for various ages of children. You can find some of them here, but there are also many other sources that describe the importance of avoiding sugary beverages as a regular part of kids’ diets.
Once parents (and kids) understand the harm that added sugar in drinks can cause to oral and overall health, the next question is what to do as a replacement? While the slogan for the ADA campaign clearly highlights water as the best choice, that may not fulfill or satisfy the sweet tooth of a child. Instead of offering juice, however, try adding in some healthier alternatives. Coconut water or fruit-infused water may also offer kids a different flavor without the added artificial sweeteners or sugars.
Some parents still struggle with successfully swapping out juice for other beverages. Some of them ask the dentist to share horror stories of cavities. That is not a recommended method of encouraging a healthier lifestyle. Instead, invite children to ask their pediatric dentist about how to stay healthy, ways to keep a shiny smile, or what some “secrets” are for keeping sparkly teeth. By engaging a child’s natural curiosity, you might help them to discover the need to be healthier all on their own. The bottom line is that parents need to stick with it. Oral health is so important, and maintaining it begins as soon as the first tooth appears.
Changing the daily habits and choices of kids isn’t going to happen overnight. However, awareness campaigns, like the one by the ADA, will help to start correcting attitudes and behaviors.