August 26, 2009
Contact PDA: (717) 234-5941
Pennsylvania Dental Association Offers Reminders for Back-to-Schoolers: Healthy Oral Health Habits Shouldn't Be Left at Home
School is right around the corner for Pennsylvania's children and the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) reminds parents, teachers and school officials that oral health has a place in the school day.
"While it’s not the first thing you think about when it comes to school, food and beverage consumption are an integral part of the school day, as well as oral health," says Dr. Andrew Kwasny, PDA president. “It’s not just lunches. Kids receive food from teachers as a reward, as birthday treats from classmates, and once they get to middle school or high school, even cook as part of their curriculum.”
Parents, teachers and school administrators all can take steps to provide kids with the most nutritious food and drinks possible in order to promote optimal oral health and overall well-being.
Parents who pack school lunches for their children are encouraged to consider nutritious options when preparing meals. There are many free resources available, such as parenting websites, which offer tips on preparing healthy snacks and sandwiches. When purchasing pre-packaged food items, parents should always examine nutrition labels and avoid items high in saturated fat and sugar.The same goes for after-school snacks.
Teachers who occasionally reward students with food should look for healthy options. For example, instead of offering high fat chocolate chip cookies, try chocolate chip granola bars (look for brands that have low-fat and low-sugar options).
PDA reminds school administrators that it has long opposed exclusive “pouring rights” contracts between Pennsylvania schools and soda beverage companies. These contracts prohibit students from accessing beverages other than the company’s soda products while at school. PDA recommends schools allow students the option of healthy beverages such as low-fat milk and juice to avoid the consequences from drinking too many sugary, carbonated beverages. These consequences include obesity, osteoporosis, kidney stones, caffeine addiction, and—most frequently—tooth decay.
One of the most common childhood diseases is tooth decay. It’s five times more common than asthma, and seven times more common than hay fever in 5-to-17-year-olds.
In addition to soda, many foods and drinks common in kids’ diets — candy, baked goods and some breakfast cereals — contain sugars that contribute to tooth decay and thus cavities. It works like this: Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, is constantly forming on our teeth. When kids consume foods or drinks that contain sugar or starch, the bacteria produce acids that attack their tooth enamel. The stickiness of plaque then keeps the acid against the teeth, which causes tooth decay, and eventually cavities.
“Along with promoting good oral health care, these recommendations will help in the fight against childhood obesity,” says Dr. Kwasny. “Each year, more kids are being diagnosed as obese, so parents, teachers and administrators have a greater than ever responsibility to provide children with healthy food and drinks at school.
About the Pennsylvania Dental
Founded in 1868, the Pennsylvania Dental Association (PDA) is comprised of approximately 6,000 member dentists. It is a constituency of the American Dental Association (ADA), the largest and oldest national dental society in the world. PDA’s mission is to improve the public health, promote the art and science of dentistry and represent the interests of its member dentists and their patients. PDA is the voice of dentistry in Pennsylvania. Learn more about PDA.