This Quarter’s Theme: Well-being

Tooth Talk Reveals Sugar’s Secret Identity On Food Labels

What’s in a word? When it’s sugar, the future of a child’s dental health. The 2014 World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines advise halving the 2002 dietary recommendation for free sugars from less than 10% of daily calories to 5% (about 6 teaspoons of sugar for the average adult). That’s a big change but it’s the result of America’s growing reliance on packaged and processed foods. The further we move from whole foods, the more vital it is to understand exactly what’s on the ingredient list.

The recommendation comes from research exploring the effect of sugar on tooth decay and weight gain. Free sugars are those added by a manufacturer, cook or user as well as those sugars found naturally in fruit concentrates and juices, syrups and honey. In the spotlight are those hidden sugars in processed foods that are making up more and more of the American diet. For example, a canned soft drink has up to 40 grams of sugar (about 10 teaspoons) and a tablespoon of ketchup contains 4 grams (about 1 teaspoon).

Sugar labeling is crafty and comes with many disguises, so, get savvy: Wkoolaidatch out for these other words for “sugar” on food labels. Remember this red flag: if it has the words “sugar,” “sweetener” or the letters “-ose,” you can bet it’s sugar.

Sugar by any other name, according to and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, confectioner’s powdered sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, dextrose, fructose, lactose, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), corn sweetener, honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar, agave nectar), pancake syrup, raw sugar, sugar, white granulated sugar, cane juice, evaporated corn sweetener, fruit juice concentrate, crystal dextrose, glucose, liquid fructose, sugar cane juice and sucrose.


This Quarter’s Theme: Well-being

Tooth Talk Helps You Improve Communication with Parents

You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t communicate them, you won’t get anywhere. The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. Motivational Interviewing, a different way to talk with parents that is collaborative, supportive, respectful and inspiring, helps you share brilliant ideas about kids and healthy teeth.

Want to inspire behavior change in the parents in your program? When talking with parents, remember these Tooth Talk tips:

  • Persuasion, advice and threats don’t work. Avoid being aggressive, loud or combative.
  • Calm open-ended questions and two-way conversation do work.
  • After sharing information, ask, “If you were going to do this, which of the ideas I shared might work best for you?”
  • Pay attention, listen, show understanding and be empathetic. Success comes because of your interpersonal interaction.

To learn more about motivational interviewing and how to help parents improve their children’s dental health, see the video Tooth Talk Moments.

To see other short, helpful videos about tooth topics for tots, click on the Videos tab.




This Quarter’s Theme: Well-being

Tooth Talk Reveals the Shocking Truth Behind Tooth Health Myths

According to a May 2014 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly half  of Americans believe in a medical conspiracy theory, from blaming vaccinations for causing autism to thinking that pharmaceutical companies are blocking FDA release of a cure for cancer. Both are false. However, the research finds that these beliefs can often lead to poor health practices, ultimately affecting overall well-being. Following are some of the top tooth health myths and good answers you can give to parents when they have questions.

MYTH: Fluoride in the public water is a government plot to dispose of industrial waste.

TRUTH: Fluoride is a natural mineral that comes from the element fluorine and is found everywhere on planet Earth. Proven to fight tooth decay, it’s found in soil, water, minerals and foods including seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, tea and gelatin. Research shows that the controlled addition of fluoride to the water supply reduces tooth decay and is fully endorsed by the medical, dental and public health worlds.

MYTH: Pregnancy weakens teeth by taking calcium from them.

TRUTH: According to the HRSA Consensus Report on Oral Health Care for Pregnant Women,   it’s actually the stomach acid from morning sickness that affects teeth, softening tooth enamel. Advise moms not to brush right after vomiting; instead, rinse the mouth with either plain water or water with a teaspoon of baking soda in it. Other changes to the mouth during pregnancy may include puffiness, swelling or possible bleeding of the gums. But, these are also signs of gingivitis. Remind pregnant moms that brushing and flossing as well as regular dental appointments are good not only for their health but also for the baby’s health too.

MYTH: Everyone hates going to the dentist.

TRUTH: Actually, the #1 fear is public speaking (followed by dying!). While most people get nervous about going to the dentist, and as many as 20% won’t go due to that anxiety, very few actually experience true dental phobia. Remind parents that the benefits far outweigh the fear. Good dental health is good for a healthy, confident smile; helps in chewing and speaking properly; and contributes to better overall cardiovascular health, including heart health and possible stroke prevention. Plus, children with healthy teeth do better in school, are free from pain, and eat and sleep better.

How do you think you can make the greatest difference in terms of children’s dental health?  Communicate better? Start a toothbrushing program? Express Your Opinion by clicking here.


This Quarter’s Theme: Well-being

Tooth Talk Celebrates National Brush Day with Good Tips to Share With Parents

What’s scarier than Halloween monsters? Tooth decay in small children! National Brush Day is November 1. It’s the day after the ultimate candy-consumption holiday for a good reason: to remind families of the importance of children’s dental health and to promote good brushing habits. Started in 2013 as part of the Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives campaign, National Brush Day has a simple message: brush kids’ teeth for two minutes, two times a day.

Remind parents of these good tips too:

  • Start brushing baby’s teeth twice a day at the appearance of the first tooth (usually between 6 and 10 months).
  • Use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste on a soft bristle child’s toothbrush. Increase to a pea-size drop at age 3.
  • Brush outside, inside, around and on top of each tooth, brushing gently back and forth.
  • Kids want to brush their teeth themselves. That’s OK, just so parents take a turn too.
  • Continue to brush children’s teeth daily until they can tie their own shoes.

For more tips and how-tos for brushing a young child’s teeth from Tooth Talk, the website about improving children’s dental health for early childhood educators and childcare providers, check out the Videos and Ask the Experts tabs.