Celebrating a Healthy Smile

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This month we celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month. Cavities are one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 5 (20 percent) children ages 5 to 11 and 1 in 7 (13 percent) adolescents ages 12 to 19 have at least one untreated decayed tooth. Cavities are preventable by proper teeth cleaning, eating healthy foods, and swapping out sugary beverages and snacks.

In the 4-H Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), we teach the importance of making better food choices and the effects that has on our bodies. Cavities can lead to other health concerns like infections, unwanted pain, and discomfort. Simple changes in your daily routine can help. For starters, make sure you brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day. Make sure you are brushing top to bottom, front to back, and brushing your tongue. Also, flossing daily helps greatly with caring for your teeth. You can make brushing time more fun by getting a cool new toothbrush, colorful floss, or a cool timer.

Another way we can fight cavities is by making better food and beverage choices. Too many of our favorite snacks contain over the recommended amount of daily sugar intake. Children ages 2 to 18 should only have 25 grams of sugar (6 teaspoons) daily according to the American Heart Association. Sodas and other flavored drinks are also loaded in sugars. Instead of reaching for candy, try some of nature’s sweet fruits that are low in sugar, such as strawberries, peaches, blackberries, honeydew, oranges, and grapefruit. You can also pair these fruits with yogurt dip, blend into a smoothie, or flavor your water by adding fresh slices. In EFNEP, we have a variety of recipes that showcase how fruit can be delicious and sweet. Below is a simple, sweet recipe that is sure to please any sweet tooth:

Easy Fruit Salad

Makes 10 serving

Serving Size: ½ cup


  • 1 (20-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice, drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fruit cocktail in juice, drained
  • 2 small bananas, sliced
  • 1 (8-ounce) low-fat yogurt (try vanilla or lemon)


  1. Drain pineapple chunks and fruit cocktail.
  2. Wash, peel, and slice bananas.
  3. Mix fruits and yogurt together.
  4. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

For more information about a healthier lifestyle, contact Joanna Rogers, Youth Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Assistant, at 910-671-3276, by email at Joanna_Rogers@ncsu.edu, or visit our website.

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