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Juice vs. Soda?

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If you’re a parent, you’re probably already wary of giving your kids sugary soda—but what about such popular kids’ favorites dubiously labeled “fruit drinks”?

With more added sugar on average than any other beverage, soda is no doubt deserving of its public health enemy No. 1 status. It’s a prime source of the sort of empty calories that have been linked to the epidemic of childhood obesity and related ills. In the past few months, news broke that Burger King had become the last of the big three burger chains to drop soda from its kids’ meals.

when it comes to other popular kids’ drinks, studies find that parents are often deceived into believing they are healthier than soda—or just healthy in general

In an online survey of nearly 1,000 parents, researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut found that while 62 percent of parents said they had given their kids soda at least once in the past month, nearly 80 percent had provided ‘fruit drinks’ a category that excludes beverages made from 100 percent fruit juice. That’s despite well over half of the respondents saying they were either somewhat or very concerned about the amount of sugar their kids consume.

How to explain the discrepancy? As one of the study’s authors put it, “Although most parents know that soda is not good for children, many still believe that other drinks are healthy. The labeling and marketing for these products imply that they are nutritious, and these misperceptions may explain why so many parents buy them.”

Think about it: If Sunny D touted the 11 grams of sugar in each 6.75-ounce bottle instead of “100% Vitamin C,” you’d probably think twice about buying it for your kids. Ditto for those Hi-C juice boxes, which likewise give top billing to the vitamin C content while burying that they contain a whopping 25 grams of sugar per box.  But what about organic?  Remember, its the sugar that is organic (without pesticides) which does not mean there is less sugar per serving.

There is, rather amazingly, more sugar in every ounce of Hi-C fruit punch than regular Coke, while a single pouch of Capri Sun fruit punch packs as much sugar as the American Heart Association recommends preschoolers consume in an entire day.

Kid-sports-drinkWorse yet are sports drinks. And while parents of toddlers probably aren’t packing their kids off to daycare with a pouch of Gatorade, plenty of parents of adolescents seem to think their budding athletes will perform that much better on the field if they’re hopped up on electrolytes. But any extra energy is likely to come from another source: Sports drinks often contain even more sugar per ounce than soda. A single 4-ounce pouch of Gatorade Prime (marketed as an energy booster) contains 23 grams of sugar, even as the AHA recommends teenagers limit their sugar intake to just 21–33 grams per day. Not to mention the artificial colors!

So what should kids be drinking instead? Echoing the advice of public health advocates, pediatric dentists recommend sticking to WATER and low-fat/skim milk. The more health messages on the front of the package, the less healthy the product is!  Despite its good protein content, check the sugar content of Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry milk too.  You’ll be surprised that ounce per ounce, there is as much sugar in a popular “kids vanilla milk” as there is in a can of soda.

We want children to value the taste of water, not become addicted to sweet drinks.  Save your money on juice boxes, pouches and drinks.  Tap water is best for the body and the mind!

The take home message?

Eat your fruits, don’t drink them!  

Sealants!

Dental Sealants

Did you know?

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One of the best ways to protect a child’s teeth from tooth decay is with dental sealants

Dental sealants protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years, ages six to 14, when back teeth are first susceptible to decay. Sealants provide extra protection on childrens teeth until they learn how to do a better job of brushing and flossing.

Sealants act as barriers, protecting the teeth against decay-causing bacteria. The sealants are usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most often.

Applying dental sealants is a simple, painless procedure that’s also inexpensive compared to filling a cavity.

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Just the facts

  • Dental Sealants are a clear plastic material, professionally applied to the back teeth to prevent cavities.
  • 90% of children’s tooth decay occurs on tooth surfaces with pits and fissures. Sealants do a great job of preventing tooth decay on those kinds of surfaces.
  • Your child can benefit from sealants applied around six years of age, when first permanent molars erupt.

Questions and Answers

What are sealants?

Sealants are made of a white or clear resin material. They help shield bacteria which causes decay on the surface of the back teeth.

How can sealants prevent decay?

The sealant material bonds to the chewing surface of the back teeth, forming a protective barrier covering the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the molars.

Sealants prevent bacteria from nestling into the grooves of the teeth AND they seal out any food sources from the deep pits and fissures of molar teeth.

Why are sealants necessary?

Because the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) on the back teeth are impossible to keep clean. The tooth brush bristles cannot reach deep into them. These depressions and grooves are snug places for food and plaque to hide. By coating the grooves with a thick covering of sealant material, plaque and food is kept out, decereasing the chances of decay.

Which teeth are suitable for sealants?

First and second molars are most likely to benefit from sealant applications. It is best to seal these molars right after they have just erupted catching them before decay sets in. First molars generally appear at around six years of age and second molars at about 12 years of age. Children between the ages of six and 14 benefit most from sealants.

How are sealants applied?

After an examination, it is determined which teeth can be sealed. Applying sealants is very simple and painless. First, the teeth are cleaned. Then in preparation for the sealant material, the teeth are dabbed with a very mild solution similar in strength to vinegar or lemon juice. This will roughen the tooth surface slightly so the sealant will bond properly to the tooth and ensure a clean tooth surface. After the tooth has been prepared, the resin sealant material is painted onto the tooth. It will flow into the grooves of the tooth and hardens in about 30 seconds. Afterwards, the bacteria cannot reach the pits and grooves.

Have sealants been thoroughly tested?

Yes. Children around the world have had their teeth sealed in clinical studies. These studies have proven sealants to be effective, easy to apply, inexpensive and nontoxic.

Are sealants covered by dental insurance?

Yes!  Most dental insurance plans offer coverage for up to 100% of the cost of placing a dental sealant.  For information specific to your dental insurance plan, please speak with a member of my staff or your dental insurance company.

How long will dental sealants last?

Sealants will chip or break off if you regularly chew on ice or hand candies (you can also break a tooth doing that!) Sealant application can last for as long as you are careful not to bite into things that are not foods.   They should be checked regularly and reapplied when the appear to have worn off.  My goal is to send your child off to college cavity free and with intact sealants to protect their teeth into the future!

Cough Syrup Cavities

Cough syrup and cavities

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It’s that time of year when coughs, colds and flu can make your life miserable. And like most people, you’ll probably reach for an over-the-counter medication to ease your symptoms. But did you know that spoonful of medicine could add tooth decay to your list of side effects?

Many cough drops and liquid medications contain a variety of ingredients that make your teeth more susceptible to decay:

  • Ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and sucrose contribute to decay when the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars, breaking them down and forming acids that attack the enamel of your teeth.
  • Ingredients such as citric acid can wear down the enamel of your teeth. In addition, some antihistamine syrups contain low pH levels and high acidity, which can be a dangerous combination for your teeth.
  • The addition of alcohol in some popular cold and cough syrups also has a drying effect on the mouth. Saliva helps to naturally rinse the sugars and acids away from your teeth – so with less saliva present, the sugars and acids remain in the mouth even longer, leading to greater risk for decay.

These risks can be magnified if medication is taken before bedtime. The effects of taking liquid medication before bedtime aren’t much different than drinking juice or soda before bedtime – because you produce less saliva while you sleep, sugar and acids remain in contact with the teeth longer, increasing your risk for decay.

What’s the remedy?

There are things you can do to lessen the effects of the sugars and acids in liquid medication.

  • Take liquid medication at meal times instead of bedtime so that more saliva is produced to rinse away the sugars and acids.
  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after taking medication.
  • Rinse your mouth well with water or chew sugar-free gum after taking liquid medication.