Yes, even your Overland Park dentist loves the occasional piece of candy, and our favorite candies are often those that we loved when we were kids. But as adults, we are (hopefully) better able to remember that the occasional piece of candy should be occasional, and we definitely remember to brush after.
Kids, though … not so much, right? As parents, we know that we should limit the amount of candy (not to mention sugar in general) that our kids consume, but that’s easier said than done. Added sugar is everywhere, often hiding in unexpected places.
We know that we should limit how much candy our children eat, but do we really know why? Here’s a quick look at how candy and other sources of sugar actually affect your kids’ teeth (and yours) and why we should be careful what we eat:
How does candy affect the teeth? We all know that sugar causes cavities, right? But the truth is, it doesn’t. At least, not directly. What it does is create the perfect environment for cavities to form. We like sugar, and so do some of the natural bacteria that live in your mouth. These bacteria are nothing to be worried about on their own – and some are even beneficial – but when they get access to sugar, certain harmful bacteria produce acid, which can damage the enamel of your teeth and lead to cavities. Feeding sugar to the bacteria is a little like feeding a mogwai after midnight in Gremlins.
How can parents help minimize these effects? Sure, we should reduce the amount of candy and other sugars that we eat and that our kids eat. But what else can we do? Teach your kids to brush about 30 minutes after eating. This helps get rid of the harmful bacteria before they can do long-term damage. It may seem counter-intuitive, but don’t brush immediately after eating. The enamel on your teeth may be softened by acids and other chemicals in the food, and brushing right after eating might do more harm than good.
What types of candies are particularly bad? The worst offenders are anything that coats the teeth with a sugary film that sticks around. This means anything especially chewy or sticky, such as caramel, gummy candy, and taffy, as well as hard candies like lollipops and even some cough drops.
How much sugar should my kids be eating? How much is too much? According to numerous health and dental associations,any amount of added sugar is bad for a child under two years old. Kids two years and up should have no more than about 25 grams of added sugar per day and only one sugary beverage (like soda) per week.
What’s the worst that can happen? No one likes cavities. Cavities make for toothaches and uncomfortable trips to your Overland Park dentist. If they’re left untreated, they can destroy enamel and lead to tooth loss. That’s not the biggest reason to keep an eye on what your kids eat, though. A good diet is vital to your child’s overall health, especially as they are active and growing.
Need some help? Ask Dr. Watts for advice when you’re in for your next checkup! As your Overland Park dentist, we do more than help clean your teeth. We’re happy to offer advice on proper nutrition and diet for a bright, healthy smile! Just call Watts Family Dental at (913) 338-3384 to schedule an appointment or chat with a member of our friendly staff!