February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

Published 6:40 am Thursday, February 18, 2021

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You’ve heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s also the most likely meal to pack a sugar punch kids don’t need.

From sticky-sweet, processed toaster foods to sugary cereals and instant oatmeal packets (don’t forget orange juice), a simple breakfast can turn into an unhealthy one quickly. Instead, choose fresh fruits, serve milk and try to pick cereals with at least five grams of fiber. Or buy the big canister of oatmeal and dash a bit of cinnamon and a swirl of honey for a healthier option.

When sugar is constantly in the mouth, bacteria in the plaque converts those sugars to lactic acid which can destroy tooth enamel. You can get rid of this plaque by flossing after every meal, brushing twice daily, and seeing a dentist every six months for evaluation and further treatments.

Dr. Natasha Grover of VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital’s family dental clinic explains, “We offer sealants and fluoride treatments to protect children’s teeth against cavities and decay.”

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. The clinic accepts Medicaid and families with no ability to pay who have been approved for CMH Financial Assistance. While supplies last, children who come in for dental care will receive coloring activity sheets in English or Spanish with crayons to take home.

Other tips:

— If kids are going to consume a high level of sugar, do so at mealtime instead of a snack. Your mouth produces extra saliva which combats and washes away acid. Floss and brush immediately after meals.

— If they must snack, choose whole fruit or vegetable sticks.

— Choose sugar-free gum. No sense in encouraging sugar to stay on the teeth for an extended period of time.

— Give them water to drink. Offer the natural flavored seltzer water without sweetener for a treat.

— Teach them how to floss properly, with a sawing motion back and forth, for each tooth.

— Schedule regular dental visits. To schedule an appointment at VCU Health CMH Family Dental Clinic, please call (434) 584-5590.