Why kids should brush their teeth
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Brushing your teeth is an important part of personal hygiene that even animals take care of -- at least the ones that have teeth.
Animals don't use toothbrushes, of course, but they chew and gnaw on objects to keep their teeth clean.
The main thing that separates humans from animals in the dental realm is sugar. If we didn't have sugar in our diet, we would have much less tooth decay. Why? Because sugar is the enemy of healthy teeth.
Our bodies are filled with bacteria. Most of these microscopic organisms are harmless. However, as far as teeth are concerned, the story is a little different. Like larger animals (us, for example) bacteria produce waste products after they consume (eat) nutrients. Among the waste products produced by mouth bacteria are acids that can damage tooth enamel. (Enamel is an extremely strong material that makes up the outside of your teeth.) These acids are too mild for you to feel, but that doesn't mean they're not there.
Because the bacteria in your mouth love "sweets," they will gorge themselves on any sugar that coats your teeth. The acids they leave behind create pits in your enamel like a prospector digging for gold. Once tiny pits have formed in the tooth enamel, additional acids make them deeper and deeper. Eventually, bacteria invade the inside of the tooth causing decay. Tooth decay is like having an infection in your teeth.
You do not have to eat candy to have sugar in your mouth. Bread and other starchy foods are digested (broken down) into a type of sugar by saliva. These sugars are just as appealing to mouth bacteria as a Snickers. (If you chew a cracker and keep it in your mouth for a moment before swallowing, you will notice it's a little sweet, proving saliva turns starch into sugar.)
So go ahead and brush your teeth. The time you spend having to do this chore will be made back with easier dental visits, whiter teeth and less annoyed parents.
First Published December 3, 2012 12:00 am