Sugar is the only cause of tooth decay in both children and adults, according
to a study published in the BMC Public Health journal. That’s a really scary
thought, especially for your kids who love to tuck into sweets, chocolate, and
cookies on a regular basis. Although you can’t always control their sugar
eating habits, you can help to keep their teeth healthier. Here’s how.
Many kids love sugar and some are actually twenty times better at identifying
sugar than other kids — their genes are to thank for this. These kids will find it
even more difficult to decrease the amount of sugar they consume, but a good
trick is to let them eat a bit of sugar at mealtimes if they simply can’t resist
having a sweet snack. Eating healthy foods at the same time as a sugary treat
encourages more saliva to be produced in the mouth, which will protect their
teeth against decay by washing away sugar residue.
There are other things you can do to encourage healthy teeth and prevent
Let Them Brush With Fluoride
Cavities develop from acids in foods, such as sugar that destroy minerals in
tooth enamel. But tooth decay can be reversed if it’s caught early, because
enamel can heal by getting the minerals it needs to be strong from fluoride in
toothpaste. It’s therefore essential for your children to be using a fluoride
toothpaste to protect and repair cavities before they get worse.
If you’re worried about fluoride consumption, teach your kids to spit toothpaste
out instead of swallowing it.
Replace Candy With Healthy Sugars
Your children will be glad to know that not all sugars are bad for them. Simple
sugars found in beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, are natural. Such
foods also contain many other nutrients children need to be healthy, as well
as fiber. Foods high in fiber delay the body’s absorption of sugar, which isn’t
only good for teeth but prevents blood glucose levels from getting too high.
Find sweet veggies and fruits to feed your children to give them a sugar hit in
a healthy way. Examples include melons, papaya, berries, and carrots.
Encourage After-Snack Brushing
Children should brush their teeth at least twice a day, but if they’ve consumed
a sweet snack it’s a good idea to send them back to the bathroom for another
brushing session. This is because some sugary foods are sticky, such as
raisins and jelly beans, and they can get stuck onto teeth. Children should
brush this residue away so that they don’t cause cavities. Baby teeth have a
thinner coat of enamel than permanent teeth, so it’s even more important to
brush your baby’s teeth after sweet snacks.
Avoid “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay”
Get out of the the habit of giving your infants baby bottles that contain sugary
liquids, such as fruit juice. It might be marketed as healthy, but one cup of fruit
juice contains 23g of sugar, which is almost five teaspoons. If you're topping
up your baby’s bottle with fruit juice throughout the day, they could easily be
consuming 10 or more teaspoons of sugar a day. That’s way too much,
especially if you consider the sugar limit for adult daily consumption is six
teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men.
Start weaning babies and toddlers off these liquids by diluting their baby
bottles with water, slowly and over a period of a few weeks. You could also
switch them over to healthier liquids, such as milk that contains calcium to
fortify their teeth.
Stick To Dental Appointments
Have your child’s teeth broken through their gums yet? That’s a sign they’re
ready for their first visit to the dentist. Children should see their dentists at
least every six to 12 months so that they can prevent cavities from developing.
This also gets them into the habit of looking after their dental health as they
grow older, while showing them that dental appointments don’t have to be
If you’re not mindful of your children’s sugar-eating habits, their teeth could
become one of the casualties. Getting them in the habit of healthy eating as well as good dental care from an early age will go a long way to keeping their teeth strong and their smiles beautiful.