Dental science is only starting to understand how early eating habits affect children’s bodies for a lifetime.
The phrase “You are what you eat” is true from birth until death. Dental science is only starting to understand how early eating habits affect children’s bodies for a lifetime. With the increased instances of childhood obesity in the US due to high-carbohydrate, high-fat foods, what physicians have known for a decade or more is what dentists are finally starting to see: obesity can increase a child’s risk factor for health conditions like gum (or periodontal) disease.
How the Body is Affected
The reason for this is that the pancreas, which is responsible for secreting the hormone insulin, which allows the body to pass glucose (or sugar) into the cells, is overworked. The glucose is used on the cellular level to supply the cell with the necessary energy. But if there is an abundance of energy, then the body stores the sugar as fat, which can lead to obesity.
Due to the nature of overeating and of eating the wrong things, if the pancreas can’t accommodate the high levels of insulin necessary to let the glucose enter the cells, then a person can develop insulin resistance. The pancreas then attempts to increase the amount of glucose to compensate but the cells do not respond, and that leads to glucose building up in the bloodstream. If a youngster develops insulin resistance, then they have a higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Type-2 diabetes increases the risk for periodontal – or gum – disease, which is why there is a link between obesity in childhood and periodontal disease.
It Isn’t Just about Healthy Eating
In the new age of high-fat diets, junk foods, and sugary drinks and sodas, it is becoming increasingly important to monitor what your child eats. As critical as their dental habits like brushing and flossing are for overall dental health, keeping their weight down is just as important for their teeth. Most children are living sedentary lifestyles, which is also contributing to periodontal disease caused by being overweight. That is why it is crucial not just to limit screen time, but also to get your kids outside and active for their overall well-being.
A Healthy Lifestyle
It is hard to monitor everything that your child eats throughout the day, and putting them on a “diet” might only exacerbate the situation. To establish good eating habits and an active lifestyle, just try to foster better behaviors and food choices. You can do that by always making fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds available. Also, limit their screen time. The more active they are, the less you need to worry about their food intake.
Eating healthy and maintaining a normal weight isn’t just important for adults, it is imperative that you establish a healthy lifestyle early on, because the habits and routines that you establish when you are a child typically follow you forever. Dentists are just beginning to see that it isn’t just about good dental behaviors, but that obesity can post a major risk for periodontal disease.
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Call us today to schedule your appointment at (314) 862-7844. We look forward to meeting you!