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Eat your way to good teeth!

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Skipping breakfast increases the risk of cavities in young children. It has been found that children between the ages of 2 and 5 who don't eat breakfast every day are almost 4 times more likely to develop tooth decay than kids who never skip the morning meal. Previous research has shown that children who are poor are more likely to have untreated cavities than other children. However, recently it has been found that young children who were not poor but skipped breakfast and their daily ration of fruits and vegetables were more likely to have cavities than poor children. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Maryland, USA, reviewed nationwide health information collected from more than 4,000 children between 1988 and 1994. Only 23 percent of kids who ate breakfast every day had a history of cavities, compared to 34 percent of kids who skipped the morning meal. A history of cavities was seen in only 18 percent of kids who ate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, but in 26 percent of kids who ate fewer servings. The researchers explained that previous research has shown that teens who skip their morning meal are more likely to eat snacks during the day, which tend to be high in sugar. The same tendency may occur in young children too. Breakfast provides a nutritional high first thing in the morning and prevents the cravings later in the day. Additionally, calcium helps protect teeth from cavities, and milk and cereal - often fortified with calcium - provide a good dose of the mineral. Overall, healthy eating is important to protect children against cavities and parents should be aware that breakfast is an important factor in keeping their kids' teeth healthy. Children who eat more fruits and vegetables have a healthier diet overall, and those who get less than five servings per day might be substituting sugar for salad.

Journal of the American Dental Association ,
January 2004

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