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Delta Dental Dispenses Lunchtime Lessons

Midday meal choices affect children's oral health and educational performance


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OAK BROOK, Ill. (August 16, 2011) - A little meal-time forethought can go a long way toward maintaining a child's oral health and educational performance. Delta Dental, the nation's largest dental benefits provider, reminds parents to take care when packing a child's school lunch.

It's no secret that poor nutritional habits in children are a serious problem in this country. According to studies from the National Institute of Health, the average American eats about 147 pounds of sugars a year, and the average 17-year-old has more than three decayed teeth!

Sugary treats like cookies, candy and fruit snacks mix with bacteria in the sticky plaque that constantly forms on teeth to generate acid, which can wear away enamel and cause tooth decay. Gooey or chewy sweets are particularly damaging because they spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth.

Sweets may provide a temporary jolt for kids, but that sugar rush soon turns into a crash and kids are left feeling lethargic. That is not the kind of mental state kids need to be in to be attentive for afternoon classes.

"Sweets in general contain too many calories from fats and sugars and very few beneficial nutrients," said Dr. William Kohn, DDPA's vice president of dental science and public policy. "Limiting sugar intake will not only be good for children's teeth, but for their overall health."

Instead, Delta Dental recommends packing healthy snacks like fresh fruit and veggies, baked chips or whole-grain crackers in your kid's lunch. Unhealthy snacks like cookies are acceptable only in moderation.

"At the end of a year, simple substitutions at snack time like water instead of a sugary drink, or an apple and carrots instead of a candy bar, will add up to a lot of saved calories and a much healthier diet," said Dr. Kohn. "Almost all tooth decay can be prevented with a healthy diet, good toothbrushing habits, and regular visits to the dentist for preventive care."

About Delta Dental Plans Association
The not-for-profit Delta Dental Plans Association ( based in Oak Brook, Ill., is the leading national network of independent dental service corporations specializing in providing dental benefits programs to more than 56 million Americans in more than 95,000 employee groups throughout the country.