How Sugar Affects Your Child's Oral Health

How Sugar Affects Your Child's Oral Health

Who doesn’t love a wonderful sweet? Children usually love them, and many children carry that love of sweets well into adulthood. Though sugar doesn’t have to be a bad thing, it can be a bad thing if your child has too much of it and doesn’t have proper oral care.

The team of pediatric dentistal specialists at My Kidz Dentist in Phoenix, Arizona, have a singular mission: to protect the oral health of all children. Part of our mission for patients’ lifelong oral health is teaching parents about the importance of managing their child’s sugar intake. 

What’s wrong with sugar?

For some parents, the downside of sugar consumption is hyperactive children who can’t seem to sit or listen. Sugar might just be your child’s favorite reward, and many people can relate to the ease of ice cream after a great test grade or keeping their room clean for a whole week. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with sugar, but on the surface of your child’s teeth, sugar is bad. 

When sugar is left on the surface of your child’s teeth, the naturally occurring bacteria have a feast. The leftovers from this feast are acidic, eating through your child’s delicate tooth enamel and digging deep into the tooth. Before a cavity forms, your child may experience gingivitis, a bacterial infection that results from the hard layer of plaque that is also created by oral bacteria.

Excessive amounts of sugar also raise your child’s risk of developing diabetes. Diabetes occurs when your child’s blood glucose levels go beyond what is healthy, resulting in tiredness, irritation, and nausea. Diabetes also raises your child’s risk of dental issues, so the risks of a sugar-heavy diet for your child are both numerous and full-circle. 

The acids that can eat through tooth enamel begin a chemical process called demineralization, meaning that the minerals that keep your child’s tooth enamel strong have been compromised. Remineralization, or the process of reintroducing these important minerals, can be done through daily oral care with mineral-rich toothpaste and a diet rich in tooth-building minerals.

How do I protect my child’s teeth?

Protecting your child’s teeth has its challenges when your child is away from home, but the first step to protecting your child’s teeth is teaching them good oral health care habits. Teach your children to drink as much water as they comfortably can after meals and to rinse their mouths after consuming sugary or starchy foods. 

Teach your child the importance of brushing and flossing twice daily. Make things easier on yourself and your child by taking them to the personal care section of your local store. Let your child choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste, both of which might have your child’s favorite cartoon character, which is exciting for both you and your child. 

If your child plays sports, make sure that they have all the protective gear that they may need. Mouthguards come in a variety of sizes to fit little footballers, umpires, and soccer stars.

Are there tooth-friendly foods that I can give my child?

Tooth-friendly foods and snacks are easier to find than you may realize. Fruits do contain sugar, so your child should brush after eating fruits like apples, pears, and even oranges. These delicious natural foods also contain vitamins that are important to gum and tooth health, like vItamin C. 

Carrot sticks are another excellent option for keeping your child satisfied and their teeth strong and healthy. Other raw vegetables like broccoli and leafy greens clean teeth on their way into little tummies, and steady consumption of these foods reduces their risk of developing chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. 

Dairy products like cheese and yogurt are gentle on little teeth, and so are legumes, like peanuts and cashews. Even with these mouth-healthy foods, the importance of consistent brushing and flossing remains the strongest defense against cavities and other oral health issues in children. 

What else should I do to protect my child’s teeth?

Absolutely! Make sure that your child makes each of their dental checkups. These biannual appointments are your provider’s opportunity to check your child for any cavities or cavities that may be forming. You can’t control everything that comes into contact with your child’s teeth, but you can help your child stay as healthy as possible. Call any of our three Phoenix offices today, or book an appointment with us online.

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