Health Department column: Cast a spell for healthy teeth
By Erica Yost
Rowan County Health Department Intern
In order to promote healthy smiles and help reduce excessive sugar consumption, the Smile Center at the Rowan County Health Department will sponsor a Candy Swap from Nov. 1 to Nov. 12. Children can bring in their extra Halloween candy to the Health Department and trade it for a toothbrush goody bag. Parents who bring their children in will also be entered to win a “Downtown Dollars” gift voucher, which is accepted at most downtown Salisbury locations. Below are a few reasons why keeping all of your children’s Halloween candy might not be the sweetest thing you can do for your child:
Halloween is an enjoyable and fun time for all ages to dress up as someone else for a night, and it’s probably safe to say that one of the best parts of Halloween is all the candy one receives. Every Halloween, children collect between 3,500 and 7,500 calories worth of candy within just a few short hours, which adds up to 4 percent of all candy consumed in our country within a year. Like anything in life, candy is OK in moderation; however, there are healthier ways to indulge in this spook-tacular fall event.
Forty-one percent of American children ages 2-11 have had cavities in their lifetime, which makes tooth decay one of the leading chronic childhood infectious diseases, a disease more prevalent than asthma. According to statistics, 23 percent of Rowan County kindergarteners had untreated tooth decay, as well as 6 percent of all fifth-graders. Routine dental cleanings should be performed twice a year to prevent tooth decay. By seeing a dentist on a regular basis, not only are you helping to prevent tooth decay, you are also helping to eliminate the risk of developmental and growth problems which can be caused by cavities. Research has shown that children who are free of tooth decay are generally in better health and are less likely to miss school.
In addition to scheduling regular dentist appointments, you should also have your child master the routine of brushing twice a day, for 2 minutes at a time. A good and fun way to measure this is to have your child hum “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” as they are brushing. Flossing daily also helps spook cavities away! Do keep in mind if regular flossing is tricky for you and/or your little one, a great alternative to use are “flossers.” Not only do they make the job easier, they are great way to reach your back teeth, where food is often harder to reach. As you try to ward off these cavity creeps, please remember that children under the age of 2 and/or children who are not able to spit toothpaste out should only brush with non-fluoride toothpaste. By swallowing a fluoride-based-toothpaste, your child can adversely affect the development of their adult teeth because of having too much fluoride in their body.
The Rowan County Health Department Smile Center operates as a full service dental facility and serves children 17 years of age and younger. The Smile Center accepts Medicaid, Health Choice, and private insurance. For those who don’t have insurance or qualify for Medicaid/Health Choice, the Smile Center also provides dental services based on a sliding-fee-scale, which is determined by one’s income and the number of individuals in one’s household. The Smile Center is located at 1811 E. Innes St. in Salisbury. If you should have further questions or want to make an appointment, please call 704-216-8796 Monday-Thursday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or on Friday 8 a.m.-noon.
A sweet tooth one day out of the year should not be a big problem. Just be a “Smarty” by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and having regular check-ups twice a year. Remember that if you are “true” to your teeth, they will not become “false” to you! Happy Halloween!
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