We think it’s safe to say that sugar tastes pretty good, but did you know it is now the number one cause of most health problems? From obesity to diabetes to premature cavity development, it’s time to ditch that sweet tooth. So how does this relate to children? There has been a marked increase in tooth decay in children globally. This has been caused by family cupboards being filled with sweets, chocolate and fizzy drinks, along with parents skipping dentist check-ups. Alarmingly, many children have already developed cavities, gum disease and tooth decay by the time they reach adolescence.
HOW DOES SUGAR DAMAGE TEETH?
The reason behind these dental health issues is sugar. When there is sugar in the oral cavity, bacteria thrive and multiply. The bacteria stick to the tooth’s surface and breaks down the sugar, causing acidity. This eventually leads to damage of enamel, the tooth’s surface layer. If parents are allowing children to eat foods high in sugar whilst also not taking care of their dental hygiene, the bacteria will continue to grow and may even lead to severe tooth pain and tooth loss.
HOW CAN CHILDREN PROTECT THEIR TEETH FROM SUGAR?
TIP 1. REDUCE THEIR SUGAR INTAKE
Although sugar is blacklisted these days, a very small consumption is not that harmful. Rather it is the continual consumption of sugary food and drink that is a big no no. Why not try limiting the amount of sugar you give to your children, such as replacing a chocolate bar with some fruit.
TIP 2. SUBSTITUTE THEIR SUGAR HABITS
Try substituting fizzy pop for some sugar free drinks like Ugly and Dash drinks. Need a substitute for sweets? Try Peppersmith’s strawberry and vanilla pastilles or their Sicilian lemon mints, made with xylitol proven to reduce bacteria in the mouth.
TIP 3: TEACH YOUR KIDS ABOUT ORAL HYGEINE
Additionally, teach your kids all about oral hygiene. It is recommended that everybody should brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day. We all know that kids can get pretty distracted so why not make it fun? Get a singing toothbrush or turn it into a game. As they grow up it is also super beneficial to teach them how to floss as this removes a lot of plaque that gets stuck in between your adult teeth. Top tip – use fluoride-containing toothpaste as it is proven to protect teeth and lead to the formation of stronger bone.
TIP 4: TAKE YOUR KIDS TO THE DENTIST
Lastly, take your child to the Dentist once every 6 months to keep a professional check on their teeth. If you make a habit of it, it’s much easier to keep it up. Plus, going regularly will ensure they don’t develop fears about visiting the dentist.
All in all, we know that sugar is harmful to dental health, especially in children. It is the responsibility of parents and guardians to monitor what their children eat. Sweet treats occasionally are justified, but anything in excess generally causes harm. The best way to maintain good oral health is by reducing sugar intake, regularly seeing a dentist and nibbling on xylitol sweets or mints.
Dr. Chris Campus is a dentist at Sorrento Dental Care. He loves sharing his knowledge with his patients so they can make better decisions about their oral health.