Keep your children’s teeth healthy
Your child’s health is important. Maintaining their oral health is equally important! Often because the impact of sugar on your child’s teeth can’t be seen, these ‘invisible’ threats can easily go undetected. A diet that is high in sugar is often a main reason for early tooth decay in kids. Many kinds of bacteria live in our mouth, and certain bacteria feed off sugar which in turn produces an acid that softens the tooth’s protective outer surface known as the enamel. This results in cavities or tooth decay.
Even though toothbrushing can neutralise some of the effects of high sugar intake, it can’t completely mitigate the risk entirely. The natural method the body uses to lessen the effects of acids produced due to sugar digestion in your mouth is through the production of saliva. Saliva acts as a buffer that constantly works to lessen the damage sugar causes through a process we call ‘remineralisation’.
Drinking a lot of water helps in the production of saliva. However, if a child were to constantly drink sugary sodas or fizzy drinks instead of water, they will be helping the bacteria that breaks down their teeth instead and the enamel of the teeth will not get the opportunity to remineralise with the constant high cycle of acid production in the mouth caused by sugar.
Watch Dr Lucy Galletly talk about Paediatric Dentistry in the video below.
Dietary recommendations for healthy children
Recommended consumption of sugar for an average adult, as recommended by the WHO, is up to 12 teaspoons or 50 grams of sugar per day. For optimal health, an alternative measure would be 10% of your daily energy intake requirements can be sugar. It’s not easy to put an exact quantity on the daily intake of sugar for a child as this depends on and varies according to their age and sex.
Reducing sugar isn’t about limiting your child’s food intake. It’s vital that you do not limit your child from eating in their high growth stage in life. It’s about encouraging a balanced and nutritious diet and instilling in them good food habits.
A small 375 ml can of Sprite, Fanta or Coke can take up almost 80% of your recommended daily sugar intake, leaving only about 20% of your allowance for sugar in the food you consume throughout the day! Click on the link below to find a guide of the estimated kilojoule/energy intake required for children and a comparison of the amount of sugar in some popular drinks kids consume.
Reducing your family’s sugar intake
Packaged and processed food items often carry large amounts of added sugar in them. See below for some examples.
- Baked foods such as cakes, muffins or even biscuits
- Breakfast cereals
- Ice cream and lollies
- Salad dressings
- Dried fruit
- Soft drinks, sports drinks or energy drinks
- Tomato sauce
- Fruit juices and sometimes even vegetable juices
Make sure you check the labels of the items you are purchasing to check that they have a ‘no added sugar‘ or ‘low sugar‘ label on them. The nutrition or health rating is important and an easy way to recognise food that is a healthier alternative for your family. Choose to eat a balanced diet that is rich in fresh vegetables, fruit, dairy and wholegrains without the additives and preservatives and sugar content that doesn’t contribute to your health and well-being.
Maintain YOUR oral hygiene to protect your family
Weakened tooth enamel can cause tooth decay and the severity of a cavity in your tooth can vary depending on how much damage has been caused by the acids produced due to high sugar in your diet.
A small to medium sized cavity can normally be filled and rectified using a standard dental filling, but if the decay has penetrated the pulp down in the root of your tooth, your dentist would have to perform a more invasive root canal treatment procedure. If the tooth is completely infected, and the dentist is not able to save the tooth and it simply cannot be salvaged, this would result in an extraction where the dentist will have to remove the tooth. This is always a last resort, specially in children, as the primary teeth play a vital role to keep your teeth in the correct place for when adult teeth begin to form. Losing a tooth too early as a child could cause spacing issues with teeth and can result in orthodontic issues in the long term.
Smiles are infectious, but did you know cavities are contagious? Just like catching a cold sore, cavities can spread by exchanging saliva. The simple act of sharing a spoon could result in transmission of bacteria that causes tooth decay! Infants and children are especially vulnerable to this as their teeth are much softer than adults’ and the enamel on their teeth isn’t as strong.
It’s important to maintain your own oral hygiene to ensure no harmful bacteria is transferred to your child and as with almost anything, prevention is the best approach.
It’s vital that your child begin to see the dentist as soon as their first tooth starts to develop, or when they turn 1 year old – whichever comes first. This is so that your dentist will be able to help monitor your child’s teeth right from the beginning and offer advice and catch any signs of decay early on, to avoid major dental issues.
Practicing healthy oral hygiene habits from the very start significantly lessens the risk of tooth decay.
Our Staff are experienced in Paediatric Dentistry
To create a positive experience and relationship between your child and the dentist, it is important to make an appointment for a general check-up early on, where the dentist will be able to introduce themselves with a gentle, non-invasive examination and spend time establishing a good relationship with them.
Everyone needs to see their dentists over their entire lives, so it’s crucial that a positive and healthy relationship is established and maintained between your child and the dentist from the get-go.
We want our clinic at Plainland Dental to be a place your kid(s) looks forward to visiting! For more tips on how to manage dental anxiety and the full article on how sugar affects your child’s oral health, click on the link below.
If your child needs a routine dental check-up booked with the dentist, get in touch with our friendly team at Plainland Dental or book an appointment online.