As a parent, you probably know that sugar isn’t great for your child’s teeth. However, if you are like many parents out there, you may not know exactly why sugar is so bad for children’s dental health. In this post we will discuss why sugar is bad for teeth as well as four easy ways you can reduce your child’s sugar intake.
Sugar plays a leading role in tooth decay
Your child’s mouth is filled with bacteria — many which benefit their dental health. However, your child’s mouth also contains harmful bacteria that “feed on the sugars you eat,” which, in turn, creates acids that break down tooth enamel and can lead to tooth decay.
When this occurs, a bacterial infection known as a cavity forms a hole in your child’s tooth, which can lead to pain and even tooth loss.
How to reduce your child’s sugar intake
Now that you understand a little bit more about how and why sugar leads to cavities, you are probably wondering how on earth you are going to convince your child to eat less sugar. The good news is — it doesn’t have to be a battle! Below are four easy ways you can reduce your child’s sugar intake for a healthier smile.
1. Do your homework
One of the most important steps you can take in limiting your child’s sugar consumption, is to do a little bit of research into how much sugar your child should have on a daily basis. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, children three years of age and older should not consume more than 12.5 teaspoons of sugar on a daily basis, which is the equivalent of one soda. When it comes to added sugars, the World Health Organization guidelines recommend children consume three teaspoons or less each day.
Food labels typically use grams to list the sugar content. One teaspoon of sugar is equal to four grams, so when evaluating how many grams of sugar your child should consume each day, try to keep sugar consumption between 12 to 50 grams.
2. Limit juice
Many parents think of juice as a healthy drink for children. However, research has shown that the high sugar content in fruit juice actually poses a number of health risks for children — including obesity and tooth decay.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving no fruit juice to children until they are one year of age. After this, the suggested guidelines are:
- A maximum of four ounces a day for children between one and three years of age
- Four to six ounces (or less) for children between the ages of four and six
- Eight ounces or less per day for children over six years old
3. Avoid sticky snacks
Many parents that we talk to think that fruit snacks, raisins, and granola bars are healthy snacks. However, these sticky snacks can actually be quite detrimental to your child’s dental health. In fact, according to Mouth Healthy, fruit roll ups and dried fruit snacks can be even worse than candy for your child’s teeth since they stick to teeth, which makes it difficult for the sugar to be washed away by saliva.
If you decide to let your child indulge in any of these sticky snacks, WebMD suggest having your child brush their teeth as soon as they are done eating.
4. Lead by example
When it comes to changing your child’s diet to include less sugar, leading by example is critical to your success! By eating well, limiting your sugar intake, and making dental care a regular part of your routine, you can help keep your child’s smile healthy and beautiful!
As always our pediatric dentistry team located in Chattanooga, TN is here to help with any children’s dental questions you may have!