Sugar and Your Children’s Teeth

Various kinds of sugar, brown, white and refined sugar

With Halloween coming up, it’s important to know exactly what we are up against, in regards to all the candy your child will get from trick or treating. We all know that sugar isn’t good for teeth, right? It’s no secret that it can cause decay and infection — especially (but not only) in adolescent mouths. But if you’re a parent, you probably also know that the battle against sugar in your child’s diet is constant, and it may feel like you’re always losing. Keep reading to learn a little bit more about how the substance affects your children’s smile, and then get some tips on how you can protect their little teeth from decay.

All About Sugar and Teeth

Surprisingly, sugar itself is not what causes decay in our mouths — it’s actually the chain of chemical events that is set into action by the sugar. When you or your child drinks a soda or chews on a stick of sugary gum, some of the bacteria that live on the teeth combine with the sugars that are left behind in the mouth, and this reaction creates the harmful acids which break down tooth enamel. Once the tooth enamel, or the shiny, clear, hard substance that surrounds your teeth, has been damaged, cavities form. Cavities are the small holes that, when left untreated, can later turn into big time dental problems that require a root canal or even extraction.

Protecting Your Child’s Teeth From Sugar

Read the labels

You already know the major offenders when it comes to sugar — it’s soda, gum, and your (or your child’s) favorite treats. But did you know sugar also lurks in many places you wouldn’t expect? Some of these surprise sugar sources include:

  • Fruit juices
  • Yogurt
  • Cereal bars
  • Sports drinks

Always be sure to check out the nutrition information of the items you’re stocking your pantry with — knowing which items are full of hidden sugars can help you improve the oral health of everyone in your family.

Encourage Your Child to Rinse With Water

Everyone is going to indulge in a sugary snack from time to time — and we think they should, too. Help family and friends understand that it’s ok to enjoy sweets in moderation, but encourage him to rinse his mouth with water afterward. This is a small step that goes far in removing excess sugar from the teeth, and with any luck, it’ll become a clean feeling we crave after consuming a sugary treat.

Schedule Regular Visits with your Dentist

The most effective way you can help your children stay healthy is by helping them maintain their regular visits to the dentist. These twice-annual appointments are vital for removing the plaque and tartar that cause cavities. If it’s been quite awhile since your last visit, please don’t wait to contact our office and schedule an appointment today. We have Dental Offices in Idaho Falls, Rexburg, and Arco.

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