Each February, the American Dental Association (ADA) sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) to raise awareness about the importance of oral health. NCDHM began as a one-day event in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 3, 1941, and has since become a national, month-long observance. The theme for this year’s event is “Water: Nature’s Drink”, highlighting the benefits of drinking water, particularly tap water, instead of sugary beverages. In fact, drinking water is one of the best ways to keep your keep your child’s teeth healthy.
Water keeps your teeth strong
Almost all water supplies naturally contain fluoride, and many communities add fluoride to their water systems (fluoridation). Those who live in areas where community water is fluoridated have the added benefit of drinking water that helps prevent tooth decay. In fact, drinking fluoridated water keeps teeth strong and reduces cavities by about 25% in children and adults by strengthening tooth enamel.
Adding fluoride to water is safe and benefits everyone. Fluoridation has been identified as the most practical and cost-effective method of delivering fluoride to all members of a community, and is recommended by nearly all public health, medical, and dental organizations, including the American Dental Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as a safe and effective way to reduce decay.
Water keeps your mouth clean
Sugary beverages such as juice, soda or sports drinks may quench your thirst, but they can leave unwanted sugar behind on your teeth. The cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth love to eat sugar and produce acid that wears away enamel, which is the outer shell of your teeth. Many of these drinks also have added acids (phosphoric, citrus or malic acid) to make them taste less sweet, but those acids also cause trouble by eroding away enamel.
Water, however, cleans your mouth by washing away leftover food and residue that cavity-causing bacteria are looking for. It also dilutes the acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth. By sipping on water throughout the day, you can help keep your smile cavity-free.
Water is calorie-free
Sweetened drinks that are high in sugar and calories, create a perfect storm that puts you and your child at risk for cavities and other unhealthy consequences like weight gain. Drinking water will help you minimize those risks and put you on a path to take good care of your body and your smile.
Of course, drinking water is just one part of good oral health care. Make sure to have your child brush and floss their teeth twice a day, and keep their routine dental visits to our practice every 6 months! We look forward to seeing you and your child in our office soon!
Be sure to look for some fun, downloadable activities for National Children’s Dental Health Month during February on our Facebook page!
Sources: American Dental Association (ADA), CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics