Got Calcium? A Healthy Mouth Needs Plenty

When you think of calcium, you probably think of bones. It’s true that this mineral is essential to keeping our bones strong, but calcium is also vital to the health of your teeth. In fact, 99 percent of the body’s calcium reserves are stored in the bones and teeth, where the mineral provides structural support.

How much do you know about calcium and its important role in your body? Test your knowledge with this true-false quiz.

1. Aside from strengthening bones and teeth, calcium also helps muscles, blood vessels, and nerves work properly. T/F
2. Calcium is important only for adult women. T/F
3. Osteoporosis can affect the health of your teeth. T/F
4. Everyone needs the same amount of calcium. T/F
5. The time in your life when you need the most calcium is after menopause. T/F
6. Not getting enough calcium can raise your risk for periodontal (gum) disease. T/F
7. You can strengthen your bones with nonimpact exercise such as swimming or bicycling. T/F
8. Green, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and collard greens, provide calcium. T/F
9.Your bones mass and skeleton become more fragile as you age. T/F
Here are the answers.
1. True. The mineral is also found in blood, muscle, and the fluid between cells. There, it helps muscles and blood vessels function normally, helps regulate hormones and enzymes, and helps transmit nerve impulses.
2.False. Calcium is essential for people in every life stage, from infants to seniors. Babies, children, and teenagers need calcium in order to develop strong bones and teeth; adults need it to maintain a strong skeleton and healthy teeth. Unfortunately, studies show that a huge number of American children, teens, and adults do not get the recommended amount of calcium. A calcium-deficient diet increases your risk of developing osteoporosis, a serious condition in which the bones weaken and are more likely to fracture.
3. True. Researchers say that osteoporosis can cause the jaw bone to weaken. The jaw bone is the “anchor” of the teeth. If it becomes damaged, teeth can loosen and fall out. In fact, women with osteoporosis are three times more likely to lose teeth than women with healthy bones. For denture wearers, bone loss from the jaw bone jaw bone can make it difficult to get dentures to fit or stay securely in the mouth.
4. False. The Dietary Reference Intakes recommended by the National Academy of Sciences vary with age and gender. Infants and toddlers (ages 1 to 3) need 500 milligrams (mg) per day; children ages 4 to 8 need 800 mg per day; older children and teens (ages 9 to 18) need 1,300 mg per day; adults ages 19 to 50 need 1,000 mg per day; and older adults (ages 51 and older) need 1,200 mg per day. Also, pregnant and nursing mothers younger than age 19 need 1,300 mg per day; pregnant and nursing mothers ages 19 and older need 1,000 mg per day. It is also important to note that adequate amounts of vitamin D are required for your body to absorb calcium from food.
5. False. According to the National Academy of Sciences, adolescents between ages 9 and 18 need the most calcium per day: 1300 mg. Women ages 51 and older are the next group that needs more calcium. They require 1200 mg per day.
6. True. In studies of calcium intake and gum disease, the participants with the healthiest teeth consumed more than 800 mg of calcium each day. At the same time, those who consumed less than 500 mg of the mineral each day were 54 percent more likely to develop gum disease.
7. False. Weight-bearing exercise—activities that require your bones and muscles to work against gravity while supporting your weight—are best for making bones stronger and denser. Examples of weight-bearing exercises are walking, jogging, aerobic dance, and weight training. Swimming and bicycling are good for your cardiovascular health, but are not weight-bearing exercises.
8. True. The best sources of calcium are dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.5 However, certain green, leafy vegetables are also rich in calcium. Calcium-fortified juice and breakfast cereal as well as canned sardines and salmon (with bones) are other good choices to boost your calcium intake.
9. True. But you can take steps to cut back on the loss of bone mass by getting enough calcium in your diet and incorporating weight-bearing exercise into your lifestyle. Avoiding tobacco and keeping alcohol use moderate will also help protect your bones and teeth.
Thanks to Delta Dental Oral Health Library for this article.

Prevent Your Kids From Getting Cavities from Halloween Candy

Halloween might feel like a holiday made for creating tooth decay, but the truth is that it is actually a great time to teach your kids about how to prevent cavities and about making healthy choices. It is nearly impossible to avoid Halloween candy altogether, but there are some simple and fun ways in which you can minimize the sugar overload after trick-or-treating is over.

Brush Away the Treats
Whether your child eats one piece of candy or ten, it is essential to brush properly to prevent tooth decay. A brand new toothbrush is always a fun way to get your child excited about brushing. Be sure to drop one in your child’s Halloween treat bucket, along with some floss, before they head out for the night.

After indulging in Halloween treats, have your child both brush and floss, since candy can easily get stuck between teeth. Remind your child of proper brushing techniques. Show him how to move the brush back and forth against his teeth and gums with short, gentle strokes and how to place the brush at a 45-degree angle towards the gumline. Younger children will need your help to brush and floss thoroughly.

Make a Candy Plan
The best thing you can do to avoid going overboard with Halloween candy is to prepare ahead of time. Have a talk with your child about what the plan will be after the bucket is brimming with candy. It helps to give your child options from which to choose, such as whether they would like to keep the candy and parcel it out slowly or trade it in for a no-sugar reward. Another idea is to set a limit on the number of houses that you visit or to simply have your child fill a smaller bag. Regardless of what you decide, the most important part is to establish the rules beforehand. It can be especially helpful for younger children to repeat the conversation a few times.

Discussing your plan for Halloween candy is also a great opportunity to talk about the importance of limiting consumption of sweets. Explain to your child how to make healthy choices for one’s body and teeth, what foods are the best for overall and dental health and how to prevent cavities with brushing and flossing.

Not So Sweet Rewards
There are a lot of alternatives to simply deciding whether or not you will allow your child to indulge in Halloween sweets. A candy swap is a great way to let your child enjoy the fun of trick-or-treating without overloading on sweets. The basic concept is to swap your child’s candy for a non-candy treat, such as a toy that your child has wanted for some time or an activity he has wanted to try. You can also extend the swap by trading out small amounts at a time rather than the whole thing at once; for example, you can allow your child to pick one piece of Halloween candy a day but then give them the opportunity to do a daily trade for something as simple as a sticker.

Remember that Halloween does not have to be scary for dental health. Use it as a teachable moment to help your child learn about moderation and dental care. You will set your child up for a future of healthy choices.

From Colgate Toothpaste