Sitting in front of a screen playing video games could take its toll on your child’s teeth, according to a study by The University of Iowa. Most children who lounge at the TV or computer for hours at a time consume sugary or acidic snacks in the process. The study focused on kids age 12-16.
Sugary snacks and sodas contribute heavily to the rising percentage of tooth decay in American teenagers, and those who spend several hours a day with a controller in their hands are twice as likely to develop oral health problems. Teens are much more likely to mindlessly consume snacks if they are absorbed in onscreen action, the study found.
Each instance of this results in approximately an hour of acid attacks on the tooth enamel, which could lead to cavities and gum disease. The sugar reacts with bacteria already present in the mouth, producing the harmful acidic reactions. Tooth decay affects between 60 to 90% of teenagers and adults, according to the World Health Organization.
Gaming doesn’t have to automatically result in oral health problems. The study also found that teenagers who operate under a set of parental rules regarding both diet and time in front of the screen were much less likely to consume those harmful foods to begin with. Teens with good dental hygiene habits at home are far more likely to carry those habits into adulthood. Even proper brushing technique can make a difference.
If snacking is still an issue, you may want to consider replacing sugary snacks with some that won’t attack those pearly whites. These could include:
- Fruit like bananas, apples, peaches or strawberries
- Dairy products like yogurt, milk or cottage cheese
- Whole-grain crackers
Thoroughly brushing and flossing the teeth on a regular schedule can help eliminate the negative effects of snacking as well. A visit to the dentist for an oral exam and cleaning will help ensure that decay doesn’t slip in unnoticed.