February is children’s dental health month. Parents are the key to making this effort successful.
As your infant is transitioning from nursing to solid food, the worst thing you can do is to add sugar or salt so it tastes better to you. At this point the baby could care less. But adding sugar or salt is the initiation of a life long addiction. Yes, salt and especially sugar is a “gateway drug”.
A “gateway drug” is defined as a habit forming substance whose use may lead to the abuse of drugs that are more addictive. Last night, ABC aired “Hidden America-Children Of The Mountains” which demonstrated this in epidemic proportions. Infants, children and then adults drink “Mountain Dew”, a highly acidic poision laden with 19 spoons of sugar in each and every bottle. This concoction is highly addictive and more corrosive than car battery acid. Gatorade is not much better. This region has a very high incidence of tooth decay, obesity, alcoholism and drug addiction.
The tobacco industry takes advantage of this early dependency by making sure cigarettes and smokeless chew tobacco are loaded with sugar. The earlier, these peddlers of sugar and nicotine can grab a captive user, the more success they have to retain and increase this use through adulthood. The need to regularly take in a substance that creates a false sense of euphoria is worsened by a weak family structure with little or no parental guidance.
A healthy mouth is a clear indicator of a healthy mind and body. Parents who take an active role in guiding their children toward a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise can make this happen.