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Link Between Childhood Obesity and Oral Health

By Susan Braden

children need affordable dental decay treatment

Families with high dental bills often try to find the source of their oral problems. Some look for affordable dental plans, and try to fight poor oral hygiene in their homes by changing family eating habits and consuming fewer sodas or other sugary drinks. However, parents and children who make these changes may also notice that they are not only saving money, but are also feeling healthier and slimming down.

Your children’s physical health and oral health may be more related than you think. According to Science Daily, researchers have suggested that there may be a link between obesity and oral health in children.

Are Obesity and Oral Health Issues Really Related?

At one time, researchers thought that young children with cavities were more likely to be underweight. In the 90's, a study of several hundred kids tested for a link between obesity and oral health. These and other past studies seemed to imply that young children with cavities and tooth decay were often underweight.

These findings have been challenged by pediatric dentists at the University at Buffalo. According to their study, about a quarter of children age 2-5 treated for severe tooth decay under anesthesia were overweight or nearly overweight. After digging deeper, researchers have found that actually, only a small percentage of kids with tooth decay are below the average child in weight and BMI. Overweight children, and ones who are nearing the overweight mark, are truly the children most in need of affordable dental care.

"The significance of these findings is that there may be a connection between a poor diet that causes tooth decay and one that leads to childhood overweight and obesity. Our next step will be to see if those children that improve their diet to stop a recurrence of cavities also are able to maintain healthy bodyweight,” said Hiran Perinpanayagam, D.D.S., Ph.D., senior author of the University at Buffalo study.

Why are these issues related?

These issues are very much related – children that are overweight tend to eat more unhealthy foods. Starchy, sugary foods corrode teeth and make them more vulnerable to tooth decay. Resulting sugars and acids cling to and disintegrate enamel, making it less able to protect itself.

How can I keep my child healthy and cavity-free?

  • When your kids are young, start them off right with vegetable baby food, and slowly grow them into eating raw and cooked vegetables.

  • Monitor your children's eating habits so that they do not overeat.

  • Help them eat healthily by keeping your kitchen stocked with healthy snacks.

  • Limit your children's soda intake on a daily basis to limit tooth corrosion.

Learn about Affordable Dental Plans

These are just some starting tips to help keep your children's mouths and bodies healthy, and to minimize their risk of becoming overweight. If you do not have a low cost discount plan, affordable dental care is hard to come by, so following these tips could save you a lot of hassle in the end.

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