Jan. 16, 2004 -- Look out, kids. If you skip breakfast -- or don't eat your vegetables -- the dentist is going to get you.
The scary news comes from a study by CDC dentist Bruce A. Dye and colleagues. They looked at data on more than 4,200 preschool kids.
What they found makes dentists the new boogeyman for kids who won't eat right. Kids aged 2 to 5 who skip breakfast are nearly four times more likely to get cavities. And kids who don't eat the recommended five servings of vegetables and fruits -- every day -- up their risk of cavities more than threefold.
"These findings reinforce the notion that good dietary habits promote oral health," Dye and colleagues write in the January issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association. "Reinforcing good eating practices such as daily breakfast consumption could be an important adjunct to fluoridation to further reduce [cavities] in children."
For most kids, breakfast means a sugary cereal. How could this prevent cavities? Dye notes that kids who eat breakfast tend to eat fewer sugary snacks. And nearly all kids pour tooth-healthy milk on their cereal.
"It is possible that the relationship between sugars in breakfast cereals and [cavities] could be mitigated when children consume presweetened cereals with milk," Dye and colleagues suggest.
These findings apply only to kids who don't live in poverty. Poor kids have worse teeth than better-off children. Programs that offer breakfast to poor children may partly offset this problem, the researchers suggest.
SOURCE: Dye, B.A. Journal of the American Dental Association, January 2004; vol 135: pp 55-66.