Sugar—it’s everywhere, and avoiding it is definitely hard to do. Even if you are committed to cutting the sweet stuff out of your diet for various health reasons, there are plenty of hidden sources of sugar you may not immediately realize. These pose a risk to your child’s overall wellbeing. While a lot of attention goes to the way it negatively impacts your weight and heart health, sugar poses a huge dental risk to the health of your teeth as well. Being aware of what sugar is really doing to your teeth—as well as how to prevent it—is helpful in developing strong and healthy teeth.
The reason sugar poses such a health risk to your child’s teeth comes down to bacteria. Harmful bacteria on your teeth thrive on the sweetener. After you eat, the harmful bacteria will feed off any sugar left on food fragments that remain in your mouth. This causes an excess of acid to be secreted onto your teeth, which could cause damage to your enamel and gums if left unaddressed. Put simply, too much sugar in your diet can lead to problems like tooth decay and gum disease.
How to Avoid Sugar
One of the biggest problems with sugar in the diet is how many places the sweetener shows up unexpectedly. Added sugars are found in just about every type of food product you can imagine. From juices to granola bars, even the most careful among us may not always be able to steer clear of it entirely.
The trick to learning to avoid sugar is to learn how to spot it in places you may not be looking for it. Avoiding the obvious sources like candy and ice cream is one thing, but there is almost always added sugar in all types of store-bought food and beverages. For example, sauces and yogurts often have a lot of added sweeteners in them. You may consider these healthy options at first, but after reading labels, you will find many certainly are not, even if they have packaging that promotes using real fruits and vegetables. These are a big risk to your teeth.
Keep a wary eye out for hidden sugars by looking at nutritional labels and paying attention to anything that says:
How to Properly Look Out for Hidden Sugar Terms
Anything added with these terms listed above is sugar in disguise, and should therefore be limited in consumption. For women, the American Heart Association recommends limiting consumption to just 25 grams per day. It is recommended that men should limit their intake to 36 grams per day. For children, sugar should be limited to at least half of what is appropriate for adults for the whole day, not just a meal.
If you are in the need for something sweet, opting for a healthier alternative with natural sweetener is a healthy way to cut down on your sugar intake. This means opting for foods like fruits and vegetables, and drinking natural juices that don’t have any added flavoring or sugar to them.
Caring for your Teeth
Avoiding sugar all together may not be completely realistic. However, you can take additional steps to avoid letting tooth decay and gum disease take over your dental health. Preventative dental care is incredibly important at all ages. This includes doing basic maintenance like brushing your teeth at least two times a day, as well as following other dental hygiene techniques like flossing and using mouthwash.
A strong brushing and flossing regimen is one of the best ways to ensure good dental health. It will help in removing any small food particles from your teeth and prevent the harmful bacteria from breaking down the sugar in the foods you eat, leaving your tooth enamel weakened from increased exposure to acid.
Diets and Dental Appointments
Staying on top of your dental appointments is incredibly important in helping to ensure that your child is eating the right foods to help positively impact their dental health. It is recommended your child sees a dental hygienist in Ponte Vedra every six months for proper cleaning. This more in-depth cleaning will remove any food particles that are built up on your teeth and help to protect your tooth enamel. Do your best to avoid eating unnecessary sugars whenever possible and maintain good dental hygiene habits to prevent the build-up of sugar on your teeth that could lead to tooth decay. For more assistance with caring for your teeth, contact our experts at Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentist today.