Every child in Mississippi deserves good dental health.
Children miss school days, struggle to pay attention in school, and can have low self-esteem due to dental pain or problems with their teeth and gums.
Oral Health in Mississippi Children
An oral health survey of 1,900 Mississippi third-graders found that:
- 63% had a history of tooth decay.
- 31% had untreated tooth decay (cavities).
- 5% needed urgent dental care.
That's actually an improvement from 2005. But it's still far from ideal.
Basic tooth care for kids is simple:
- Brush teeth at least twice a day. Young children will need help to make sure they're reaching all their tooth surfaces.
- Use a fluoride toothpaste to reduce the risk of cavities.
- After snacks, sweet drinks, or meals when brushing isn't possible, rinse with plain water.
- Clean between any teeth that are touching teeth by flossing, or by using a cleaning tool, at least once a day.
Keeping Away Tooth Decay: Snack Smart!
Smart snacking can keep your children in school instead of the dentist's office. Snacking and sipping throughout the day is the fast track to tooth decay.
Save sweets and sugary drinks for mealtimes. Sugars are less likely to stay in the mouth and cause decay.
Keep snacks low in sugar. Between meals, avoid sweets, sugary beverages and sports drinks. Try fruit, nuts or sugarless gum instead.
Save sports drinks for strenuous hot weather activity. These sweet drinks are high in sugar and offer no nutritional value. Water or low-fat milk is always healthier.
Read nutritional labels to find low-sugar foods and snacks and find foods where high sugar can be hiding.
Why: Consuming sugary food and drink throughout the day constantly feeds oral bacteria. These bacteria then produce acids that eat away at tooth enamel and decay teeth. Skip the sweets, or rinse well with water after between-meal snacks.
This month, try these ways to get your kids involved in better oral health:
Brush and floss as a family. It's fun, and models good dental hygiene habits for your child.
Take your children shopping to select healthy snacks. Go through the store with your kids and pick out their favorite snacks. Tell them whether the snacks you choose make your teeth happy (low in sugar and carbohydrates) or sad (high in sugar or carbohydrates). Let them choose healthy snacks (including drinks low in sugar).