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All Posts in Category: Children/Kids

effect of sugar on kids' teeth

Too Many Sweets? The Harmful Effect of Sugar on Kids’ Teeth

All kids like the occasional treat, but too many high-sugar snacks can have a major impact on their health. Experts recommend that children consume less than six teaspoons of added sugars per day, which is the equivalent of about 25 grams or 100 calories. Consuming more than the recommended amount can significantly reduce their risk of developing a wide range of health problems, including tooth decay. While we all know that sugar is bad for our children’s health, just how bad is it?

How Tooth Decay Develops

The mouth is full of bacteria, many which are beneficial to your unique oral environment. However, the ‘bad’ bacteria can wreak havoc on teeth if you consume the wrong foods in excess. When you consume sugary foods, the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar, creating acids that destroy tooth enamel. Over time, the acids will create a hole in the tooth. If left untreated, the hole can reach the deeper layers of the tooth causing pain and eventually tooth loss.

The Fight Against Tooth Decay

While the teeth are highly susceptible to damage, your mouth does have some defenses it uses to fight back. When acids attack teeth, they leech minerals from the enamel in a process known as demineralization. In the early stages of demineralization, the damage is often reversible. Saliva, fluoride, and other components work together to strengthen the teeth in a process referred to as remineralization. However, if your child eats lots of sweets and starches each day the teeth may not recover from damage.

Common Cavity Symptoms

Don’t think just because your child isn’t complaining of a toothache that there are no cavities. In fact, a child can have an established cavity with no pain or discomfort whatsoever. It can take months or even years before a cavity causes noticeable pain. That is because the nerve fibers that send pain throughout the body are not located in the enamel. It isn’t until the acids eat through the enamel and into the dentin that the nerve fibers begin to send out pain signals. By the time this happens, tooth decay is present.

While many children have no symptoms of tooth decay, others may experience:

  • Toothache
  • Dull pain in the mouth
  • Hot and cold sensitivity
  • Pain when biting down
  • Visible holes or pits in the teeth

Preventing Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a preventable condition in both children and adults. Nutrition is a highly important part of oral health. Parents should serve balanced meals high in whole grains and protein. Limit sugary foods and drinks. While cookies and candies are okay for an occasional snack, they not should be a daily treat. If your child still drinks from a bottle or sippy cup, avoid sugary beverages like juice. Remember that even milk in excess can cause tooth decay. Whenever possible, give your child water instead of sugary beverages.

Brushing is also highly important for the prevention of tooth decay in children. Regular brushing helps to wash away sugars and acids in the mouth and prevents a buildup of bacteria-riddled plaque on the teeth. Consult with your child’s dentist if you’re concerned about cavities or you suspect that your child may have tooth decay.

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kid healthy mouth

How to Keep a Child’s Mouth Healthy

As a parent, you have a lot of responsibilities. One of the greatest challenges is ensuring that your kid’s mouth stays healthy. You don’t want them regularly going to the dentists to get a filling or dental fixes that they should never need. Luckily, there are ways to make sure that your kid’s mouth stays healthy, and you can avoid serious problems such as tooth decay.

Make Sure They Floss

There’s great debate over how much flossing helps keep teeth healthy and particularly the teeth of children. A lot of people put off flossing because it’s time-consuming and irritating. It’s also quite difficult to make sure your children floss. But now you can get floss that is secured to a handle, just like a toothbrush. Since you can use it as a toothbrush, it’s easy to get kids into the habit of doing this. It’s also worth encouraging flossing because it helps keep the space between teeth clean. This is often where plaque builds up and can lead to tooth decay if left untreated.

Use Dental Sealants

Dental sealants can be even more useful for preventing health issues in children’s mouths. With dental sealants, a layer of protective coating is put on the teeth. This means that food particles cannot get stuck between the teeth or near to the gum line. Instead, when your children brush, they’ll be able to keep their teeth clean. The best part is that these sealants last for years without needing replacements.

Dentists recommend these for kids if your children don’t regularly see the dentist. Many parents find it difficult to fit dental treatment into their budget. A dental sealant could be considered a quick and easy solution. In fact, experts believe it could reduce issues with cavities by around 75 percent!

Get Regular Checkups

If you can, you should be aiming to get regular dental checkups for your children. Even low-income families can benefit from dental treatment through Medicaid. When they’re young children should be seeing a dentist at least once a year. Ideally, you should be scheduling an appointment every six months. Dentists will be able to keep track of any issues and ensure they don’t develop into serious problems. They can help keep your child’s mouth healthy and clean.

Avoid Sugary Foods

Sugar is the biggest cause of plaque and tooth decay. If you can reduce how much sugar your children consumes, their mouths will be a lot healthier without any dental treatment at all. Don’t forget that plenty of soda drinks are high in sugar. Just making sure children are drinking these with a straw can reduce the risk of cavities. It can stop the sugary liquid swirling around the mouth, causing damage to the teeth.

Teach Good Brushing Technique

Finally, many children would have healthier mouths if they just knew how to brush properly. Brushing their teeth should take them five minutes and ideally, you should be giving children an electric toothbrush. This will allow them to give their mouths a more thorough clean and prevent the buildup of plaque.

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