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Children Need Extra Protection : How to Get the Edge on Tooth Decay

March 12, 1987

Young children exhibiting signs of a sweet tooth need extra tooth protection from their parents, which may be as simple as an extra glass of milk a day, according to the California Dental Assn.

"Just as a plant constantly needs water and nutrients to grow its tallest, your children need calcium to grow the healthiest teeth and tooth enamel," said Norman Sperber DDS, chairman of the association's Council on Dental Health.

Tooth enamel is described as the porous coating on the tooth surface, which helps protect the tooth from decay. It is made mostly of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.

An Edge Against Tooth Decay

Nearly 75% of the calcium in the American diet comes from dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt.

"Kids consuming fewer than three servings of dairy foods a day probably aren't getting all the calcium they need to build healthy teeth and enamel," he said.

"But with adequate calcium intake, children can build a strong layer of enamel, giving them an edge against tooth decay," he said.

Daily brushing and flossing, regular visits to the dentist and limited between-meal snacks also will keep children's teeth at their best.

Adding a glass of milk, 1 1/2 ounces of cheese or a carton of plain yogurt will boost a child's recommended daily intake of calcium by one-third.

"Try giving them a slice of cheese to snack on, or offer a glass of milk to go with their cookies," he said.

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