If there’s one thing that kids like, it’s sugar. As a parent, you know that too much sugar is bad for them, but the demand is often so overwhelming that it’s hard not to give in.
That said, the crucial point to remember is moderation. Just as you shouldn’t give your child chocolate and lollipops all day long, you don’t need to eliminate sugar from their diet entirely. Also, many foods have added sugar, so even if you’re avoiding candy bars, your little ones will likely eat more sugar than you realize.
While eating too much sugar has multiple side effects, one of the easiest to mitigate is your child’s dental health. Let’s dive into sugar’s impact on one’s teeth and how you can reduce your child’s intake.
How Does Sugar Affect Your Kid’s Teeth?
There are a couple of ways that sugar can impact your kid’s dental hygiene.
First, sugar erodes enamel, the tooth’s outer layer. Since your child’s teeth are still growing and developing, they need to be as strong and resilient as possible. Too much sugar sitting on the enamel can weaken it, leading to further dental health problems in the future.
Another effect of sugar in the mouth is that it attracts bacteria, including those that cause gingivitis and gum disease. Since your child’s gums are also developing, you want to eliminate bacteria as quickly as possible, so they don’t lead to significant gum decay later on.
The Dangers of Giving Your Child Too Much Sugar
So, what can happen if your little one eats too much sugar and doesn’t brush their teeth regularly to wash it off? Some common side effects include:
- Cavities – As the enamel erodes, it causes holes in the teeth, exposing the sensitive nerves underneath. Cavities require fillings, which must be treated by a pediatric dentist.
- Severe Tooth Decay – In extreme cases, the cavities formed inside the teeth may require more than just a filling. Sometimes, your child may need crowns to prevent further damage and potential infection of the gums. Even though your child will eventually lose these teeth, failure to address this issue can lead to infection and pain.
Tips on How to Reduce Your Child’s Sugar Intake
Fortunately, tooth decay doesn’t happen overnight. Plus, with proper dental hygiene, you don’t have to worry as much about your child’s mouth. That said, here are a few tips on how to reduce the amount of sugar your little one eats to prevent significant problems later on.
- Instill Good Brushing Habits – All children must practice good dental hygiene, even babies and toddlers. Before your child can brush their own teeth, you need to do it for them at least twice a day. If your little one has a particularly sweet treat or meal, it’s best to brush their teeth afterward.
- Look for Added Sugars – Unfortunately, many food brands add sugar to their products to make them more appealing, especially to children. Pay attention to the label and see how many grams of added sugar are included. You may also want to read the ingredient list to see what kinds of sugar are present.
- Don’t Assume Natural Sugars are Better – Yes, giving your child fruit is better than giving them candy or chocolate. However, don’t assume that because fruit is healthy, it doesn’t count as sugar. Pectin, fructose, and glucose may be natural sugars, but they can still lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Again, moderation is key.
Keep Your Child’s Smile Beautiful With Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry
One of the best ways to prevent significant dental issues is to take your child to a pediatric dentist. Dr. Lindsay and Dr. Chris care about all of our patients, so we make the experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible. Whether your child needs a regular checkup or a dental procedure, we’re here to help them get the best smile possible. Contact us today to set up an appointment!