A month to remember the link between oral health and nutrition

By: Amy Cotton

September is being observed as Hunger Action Month across our nation. It’s a good time for those of us who work in the oral health field to remind our friends and neighbors that a person’s risk for tooth decay is greatly shaped by diet and nutrition. In August, CDHP staff picked a day to step away from our desks to volunteer with the Capital Area Food Bank.

After learning from food bank staff about the needs in our community, CDHP staff sorted food and beverage donations. As we wrapped up our afternoon of volunteering, CDHP Executive Director Meg Booth summed it up well: “hungry families can't be healthy.” That includes their oral health.

A person's risk for tooth decay is greatly shaped by diet and nutrition.

In the Washington, DC region, more than 700,000 people struggle with food insecurity, as do 1 in 6 children nationwide. Surveys show that 7 in 10 families facing hunger largely cope by buying cheap, unhealthy food.

Thankfully, this food bank enables families experiencing hunger to access affordable, healthy groceries and other household items, such as dental hygiene products. The motto of the Capital Area Food Bank states, “together we can end hunger.” We believe the same is true of eliminating barriers that lead to poor oral health.

If you and your coworkers want to volunteer at a food bank in your community, this web page can help you find a local food bank.

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Children with poor oral health were nearly 3x more likely to miss school due to dental pain.
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