As a parent, it’s always nice to give your child a treat. We do it on Halloween or as a reward for doing chores or good behavior, and then there’s the best reason – just because. But have you stopped to think about what effect these treats have on your child’s dental health? Depending on what kind of sweets you’re giving your children, the effects can be very detrimental.
Out of all the big offenders out there, sour candy should be at the top of the list. Many of the sour candies like War Heads or Sour Patch Kids are practically as acidic as battery acid! Acidic candy eats away at enamel leaving your children’s teeth open to discoloration and decay.
Tooth enamel erosion happens when the pH level of your mouth falls below 4.0. Most of the leading sour candies tested have a pH level between 2.0 and 3.0. Make sure if your kids do eat these candies that they rinse out their mouths with water because water neutralizes acids and brings your mouth’s pH balance to a safe level. Any sticky, sugary residue that gets lodged between the teeth should be removed by brushing and flossing.
According to the Diet and Nutrition Survey of Infants and Young Children (DNSIYC), two in every three, or 62% of children aged just 12-18 months had “sugary preserves and confectionary foods” as snacks. It’s not just the sugary snacks that are problematic; it’s also the amount kids are consuming. According to research in 2003, almost half of 5-year-olds in the study had obvious tooth decay and by 2008, three out of ten, or 31%, had severe tooth decay.
Keep in mind that kids aren’t born with a sweet tooth. It’s acquired by what they’re exposed to and their diet. The really vital thing that you can do is pay close attention to what you’re giving your kids. Fruit juices are really popular these days because you’re thinking, “this fruit juice must be a healthy alternative to things like soda or Kool-Aid.” However, they can contain very high levels of sugar and acid that erode young teeth and create a need for cosmetic dentistry down the road.
It’s really not realistic to eliminate sweets altogether unless you want a riot on your hands, but be mindful of what’s in the treats. Always read the content labels on these products and be on the constant lookout for healthy alternatives. Bring in your children to see Dr. Matthews for a checkup. He can provide you with more information on this or any other concerns you may have for your child’s dental health.