How Sugar Affects Children's Teeth | Alpen Dental

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The Effects of Sugar on Children’s Teeth

little girl with cupcakeYou want only the best for your child. Of course, giving your child the best can be easier said than done. Many foods out there contain a large amount of sugar, which can negatively affect your child’s oral health. How much sugar should you let your child have? Why does it damage teeth? Does sugar cause any extra negative effects on baby teeth? We’ll answer these questions and more.

How Sugar Affects Baby Teeth

People commonly say that sugar causes tooth decay, but technically, it’s the bacteria that create cavities — not the sugar itself. The bacteria in your mouth love to eat sugar as much as many humans do. After the bacteria consume sugar or another carbohydrate, they create acid. This acid causes tooth decay problems like cavities.

Both adults and children can get cavities from sugar because of this process. When tooth decay becomes severe, a dentist may have to remove the affected tooth. Baby teeth eventually get replaced by permanent teeth, but they need to stay in a child’s mouth until they naturally come out. Your child’s baby teeth keep space open for permanent teeth to emerge. If they lose a tooth too soon, the other baby teeth can move into the open space and prevent the permanent teeth from erupting correctly.

Lowering Sugar Intake for Your Child’s Teeth

To avoid tooth decay, the Canadian Dental Association supports healthy eating based on Canada’s Food Guide. The official guide recommends limiting sugar intake and following the recommended amounts on food labels.

Just like anything else, sugar will usually not harm your child’s health in moderation. Unless your doctor recommends it, you don’t have to cut it out completely. Instead, you can lower your child’s intake a little at a time. When you reduce the amount of sugar your child consumes, they not only have a healthier smile, but they also have a lower risk of diabetes and obesity.

Preventing Tooth Decay From Sugar

The following strategies can help you prevent your child from getting sugar-related tooth decay. Some will help you lower the amount of sugar they eat, and others will reduce the damage sugar causes:

  • Avoid sticky sweets: Sticky carbohydrates stay on the teeth, making it more likely for bacteria to produce acid. When you give your child a sweet treat, avoid foods that stick to the teeth, like caramels.
  • Replace sugar with alternatives: Try replacing sugary foods with foods containing sugar alternatives. Sugar alcohols like xylitol can actually enhance dental health.
  • Snack less frequently: Eating sweet foods on a regular basis can raise the risk of tooth decay. Limit sugar to mealtimes.
  • Don’t give sugar at bedtime: Putting your child to bed with a bottle or food exposes their mouth to sugar throughout the night.
  • Limit carbohydrate snacks: Many crackers and chips have a high amount of sugar in them. They also stick to teeth easily.

Contact Alpen Dental

Whether you need to take your child to their first dentist appointment or want advice, we can lend a hand. Schedule an appointment in Blackfalds (403-885-8422) or Rimbey (403-843-2173) today.

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