Most of us love sweet treats, but sugar is bad for our teeth because the bacteria in our mouths thrive on it. Consequently, after feeding on sugar, this bacteria produces acid that causes tooth decay and destroys our teeth.
The truth is, everyone should consume less of the sweet stuff. However, it’s especially important that we help our children develop healthy eating habits so that they can enjoy a lifetime of good oral health. The question is, how do you help your child reduce their intake in a world of sugar-laden snacks and beverages?
Below, we have listed some tips and tricks from the team at Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry that will help you help your child eat less sugar.
1. Understand Limits
To reduce your child’s sugar intake, it’s important to know exactly how much sugar is OK. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that children ages three and older should limit their sugar intake to no more than 12.5 teaspoons daily of added sugar.
Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends even stricter limits. According to the WHO, children should have no more than three teaspoons of sugar every day, while adults should limit their sugar intake to no more than six teaspoons per day.
2. Know the Truth About Fruit Juice and Sugar
It’s easy to believe that fruit juice is healthy. After all, it’s made of fruit, right? However, the truth is that fruit juice is high in calories and sugar.
While a child can safely enjoy an occasional glass of juice, it’s not a good idea to make juice the main beverage for children. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), there are specific recommended guidelines for how much juice to allow children to drink.
- Children ages 1-6: 4-6 ounces of juice per day
- Children ages 7-18: 8-12 ounces of juice per day
This is the equivalent of one juice box every day for younger children and two juice boxes every day for older children.
3. Eliminate Sugary Carbonated Sodas
Whether you call it pop or soda, these carbonated beverages have no place in your child’s healthy eating plan. Just one can of carbonated soda has the amount of sugar that children should be consuming in a three-day period.
In regards to teens, a Journal of the American Dental Association study found a strong association between poor dental health and high sugar beverages. The study showed that 31.7% of teenagers who drank soda daily had tooth erosion.
4. Phase Out Gummy Snacks and Sugar Cereal
We have sometimes seen gummy snacks and sugary cereals referred to as “breakfast candy” and that’s fairly accurate. It’s easy to grab either one of these to feed a child a quick breakfast, but neither is a good choice.
Gummy fruit snacks, even the ones that contain fruit are just as guilty as candy when it comes to causing tooth decay. The reason is, these sticky snacks stick to your child’s teeth for longer than sweet snacks like chocolate because they’re harder to wash away.
Additionally, popular breakfast cereals have far too much sugar. They often hide behind labels such as “whole grain” or “low fat.”
5. Serve Whole Fruit
One way to help your child get their sweet fix is to serve them whole fruit. Fruit tastes surprisingly sweet once you’ve eliminated more concentrated sugar sources.
Some excellent choices for whole fruits that are sweet are grapes, melons, oranges, and apples.
6. Lead by Example
The best way to reduce the sugar in your child’s diet is to lead by example. When your children see you eating and enjoying healthier sweet options, they are more likely to follow suit.
7. Start Small
When you’re making changes in your family’s diet, it’s easier to make long-term adjustments if you start small. Removing soda and limiting juice are the options that will have the most immediate impact. Then, you can start slowly phasing out other sugar-laden snacks and processed foods.
8. Stay on Top of Dental Appointments
Even if sugar has already caused damage to your child’s teeth, it’s not too late to start by helping them form better habits. Contact Ponte Vedra Family Dentistry today to schedule a cleaning and check-up for your child.