Combating Child Obesity with Dental Health

When you bring your child to the dentist, you expect to discuss things such as how to properly brush and floss, lifestyle changes that can help improve your child’s oral health, and even what foods are dangerous for your child’s teeth. What you don’t expect to discuss is childhood obesity, but that is what is happening in pediatric and general dental clinics all across the country.
Childhood Obesity has Reached Epidemic Levels
Even though childhood obesity has always existed at some level, it wasn’t until recent years that it became a huge nationwide problem. The Center for Disease Control suggests that the number of cases of childhood obesity has tripled since 1970.
Currently, it is estimated that approximately 1 in 5 children between the ages of 6 and 19 are dealing with childhood obesity. Many children that aren’t officially labeled as obese could be classified as “at-risk” and develop obesity in the future.
In an effort to combat childhood obesity, healthcare professionals are teaming up with dentists to help parents learn valuable information that will hopefully improve a child’s health. Examples of information that dentists can give parents that would prove valuable in the fight against childhood obesity include talking about what foods and drinks are healthy to eat and what foods and drinks should be avoided.
Dentists are in a Unique Position to Notice Children who are At-Risk for Childhood Obesity
Doctors are very limited in the information they have access to that can help determine what children may be at risk for childhood obesity. They can easily access information such as glucose levels, blood pressure, and weight, but other information, such as the types of foods that are consumed on a regular basis, aren’t so easily accessible. That is where dentists can come in and help.
Dentists are in a unique position to gain valuable information that can help determine if a child is at risk of developing childhood obesity. Children who consume large amounts of sugar often experience tooth loss, gingivitis, tooth decay, and cavities – all problems that are addressed by dentists.
Dentists who notice children have increased tooth decay and cavities may open up the discussion with the parent or caregiver about what types of foods are consumed. If the parent or caregiver indicates a preference for foods high in sugar or even unhealthy amounts of fats, the dentist may want to recommend health alternatives and even suggest they speak with the child’s doctor about the risk of developing childhood obesity.
What Exactly can Dentists Do to Fight Childhood Obesity?
The biggest thing dentists can do is to encourage children and parents to make healthy food choices and avoid sugary foods/drinks. Evidence suggests that when children start consuming large amounts of sugar at an early age, their body starts craving it. That craving results in the consumption of large amounts of sugar that could lead to increased risk of developing childhood obesity.
If the craving can be prevented from developing, children will engage in healthier lifestyle choices which will reduce their risk of childhood obesity. These lifestyle choices will continue into a child’s adult years and help them remain healthy for the rest of their life.
Schedule an Appointment with a Pediatric Dentist
Parents who want to set their child to make healthy lifestyle choices should schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist. A pediatric dentist can help give you the knowledge you need to properly care for your child’s teeth, make good food choices, and even learn what foods to avoid. The pediatric dentist can also help improve your child’s oral health with regular cleanings and preventative examinations.
If you live in the Orlando area and are looking for a pediatric dentist, consider Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida. We have two locations that serve the Orlando area. Each of our two locations is dedicated to providing high quality dental care to children of all ages. We employ experienced staff who are trained to provide caring, compassionate, and gentle dental care to children. Our staff is also experienced in giving parents the information and knowledge they need to keep their children’s teeth and gums healthy.
Call us today to schedule an appointment for your child.