How Can Sugar Affect Your Child’s Oral Health?

Having a sweet tooth isn’t always a bad thing, but it’s important to start healthy oral habits with your family dentist early on. We understand that most kids can be extremely picky eaters which limits their diet options considerably.However, the amount of added sugars in our foods and beverages is astronomical! The recommended daily limit of added sugars for young children and teens is only 25 grams, while a glass of apple juice contains almost 40 grams of added sugar! Fruit juices, while fine in moderation, are just as unhealthy as other sugary drinks like pop.

What are the side affects of excessive sugar consumption?

As you can see from the apple juice example above, it is very easy to go and exceed the recommended limit of added sugar intake. The most common side affect is tooth decay. Too much sugar can cause natural bacteria in the mouth to produce acids that destroy tooth enamel and cause cavities. An overabundance of acid can also cause gum irritations or even gingivitis (periodontal disease). That just means more visits to our office (we’d love to see you, but not in those preventable circumstances!).

While not directly related to family dentistry, too much sugar can be the source of obesity and malnutrition. Sugar is not filling and doesn’t contain any nutrients that are vital for your child’s development. Nutrition is key when it comes to maintaining a healthy smile. Vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin D, and Calcium are imperative for teeth and gums- none of which are found in sugar.

Preventing Cavities

There are many ways to prevent tooth decay. We recommend following these guidelines:

  • Limit sugary drinks to mealtimes- the food you eat will aid in getting rid of the extra sugar that will stick to your teeth.
  • Measure your poison- whether it’s lemonade, fruit juice, pop/soda, sports drink, or iced teas it’s important to measure the amount of sugary liquids your child is consuming.The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that children should consume no more than 8 ounces of sugary drinks a week. To put that into perspective, sports drinks (like Gatorade) are typically 20 ounces and a can of pop is 12 ounces.
  • Limit snacking- while it can be hard to not give your child a Nature Valley bar or handful of M&M’s whenever they are hungry, we suggest limiting snacks to 2 per day in between meals if need be.
  • Fully read the ingredient labels- once you study the labels on your pre-packaged snacks, you’ll be shocked at the amount of sugar and additives they contain. For example, there are 12 grams of added sugar in a Nature Valley granola bar. That’s half of your recommended added sugar limit right there!
  • Treats in moderation- we are not going to tell you that your child can never eat ice cream or have a lollipop ever again. That’s just not practical! We simply recommend limiting treats to a few days a week. That way your child learns healthy habits early on and can still act on their sweet tooth cravings!

Start Healthy Habits at Light Touch Dental

As the top family dentist in Toledo, Dr. Natalie Nechvatal and the Light Touch Dental team are experts at providing your family with a healthy smile. A beautiful smile starts with healthy habits such as eating foods that are high in nutrients and brushing and flossing twice daily. These will prevent cavities and other unwanted dental problems later on! Ready to make an appointment? Contact our team at (419) 866-4271 and we will help get your healthy habits started in the right direction!


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