Skipping Breakfast Ups Tooth Decay Risk For Children

Caregivers should beware that young children who skip breakfast might be fattening their chances of experiencing tooth decay, according to a study in this month’s Journal of the American Dental Association.

Using data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, study authors investigated the relationship between healthful eating practices (such as breast-feeding, eating breakfast and consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables a day) and dental caries in the primary teeth among children two to five years old.

“Specifically, not eating breakfast every day was found to be associated with overall caries (tooth decay) experience and untreated decay in the primary dentition in children aged two through five years,” the authors wrote. “Our findings support the notion that even if the effects of poverty could be mitigated, healthful eating practices among preschoolers would contribute to further reduction in caries.”

Tooth decay more likely for higher-income kids with poor eating habits

According to the authors, it is well known that minority children or children identified within lower socioeconomic groups, are more likely to experience caries compared with non-minority children or children in higher socioeconomic groups.

However, in their analysis of more than 4,000 preschoolers, the authors found that poor eating practices (not eating breakfast and eating fewer than five servings of fruits and vegetables a day) also were associated with caries in primary teeth among children not living in poverty and that these children were more likely to experience tooth decay than poor children.

“Poverty may be the more important cofactor in indicating caries risk, but healthful eating practices are an important factor in the overall, complex process that leads to caries experience in young children,” concluded the authors.

The authors found no association between breast-feeding and caries in primary teeth.

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