Tis the season for sugary snacks and drinks. We all know sugar isn’t good for us, and most of us try to limit our kids’ sugar intake. But, summer is the season that makes it especially hard because there are so many wonderful seasonal treats! S’mores, popsicles, ice cream and lemonade – just to name a few. Even fruit is sugar, and our teeth don’t discriminate one type of sugar from another.
WHY is sugar bad for teeth?
When you eat or drink sugar, it stays on your teeth. Bacteria that live inside your mouth eat away at the sugar left behind. As the bacteria consumes the sugar, it begins to produce acid. That acid eats away some of the enamel on the teeth, which makes the teeth thinner and weaker. As the enamel weakens, the likelihood of developing cavities becomes greater.
How Can I Avoid This Damage?
Drink water instead! Or, cut natural fruit juice with seltzer water to further minimize the amount of sugar your family is consuming and provide something more flavorful when desired.
Rinse. If you find that you just have to allow them to indulge, make sure they rinse with water to flush their mouth and remove some of the sugar that remains.
Brush. Brush the sugar away after eating something sugary. It’s also a good idea to purchase toothpaste and mouthwash that contain fluoride. Fluoride helps to reduce cavities and strengthen tooth enamel, so it can help to reverse the damage caused by these drinks.
Floss. Get the sugar out from between the teeth so that the bacteria don’t have anything to feed on.
For the little ones still drinking from a bottle or sippy cup – don’t let them bring their bottle or sippy to bed. The milk or juice tends to sit in their mouth as they drift off to sleep, leaving behind the sugar from the drink. Even milk and formula contain some sugar, so if your little one feeds throughout the night, brush with water or wipe the teeth with a clean cloth after feeding. If your child gets thirsty in the night, encourage them to drink water.