Parents and caregivers who try to ensure they provide a healthy and tooth friendly diet for their kids are often horrified to learn that these healthy foods could in fact be the cause of tooth decay and ruin kids teeth. In an effort to keep kids teeth strong and cavity-free, parents will often make sure their child doesn’t have any candies or chocolate and will keep their consumption of chips and cookies to a minimum. Healthy treats in the form of dried fruit, or natural fruit juice or fruit smoothies are given out instead so it can come as a real shock to learn their child has a cavity. While these types of foods might be high in vitamins and are full of lots of good stuff, they are also packed with sugar and sugar can ruin kids teeth.
We see a distressingly high number of kids with tooth decay and frequently their parents have tried to do their best to prevent tooth decay this from happening and will have brought them in to see us at regular intervals and will have ensured they are brush and floss correctly. So how does the sugar in these healthy foods affect teeth?
How Sugar Can Ruin Kids Teeth
It doesn’t matter whether the sugar in a food comes from a healthy source, such as natural fruit, or whether it comes from candy, as all will have the same effect on teeth. There are two different ways high sugar foods will ruin kids teeth. The first is through acid erosion, where teeth are exposed to acidic foods, such as fruits (including fresh and dried). If the teeth are exposed too frequently then the enamel will gradually become eroded. Every time teeth are exposed to acid, tooth enamel is softened due to some essential minerals being removed. The mouth remains acidic for up to an hour after eating which is why snacking on dried fruits, natural fruit juice or smoothies is so bad for teeth. The second way sugar can damage teeth is due to the way bacteria in the mouth use these sugars as an energy source, producing acid as a by-product. This acid will have a similar effect to acidic foods.
Why Brushing Immediately After Eating Is a Bad Idea
Caring parents will often get their child to brush their teeth immediately after eating a sweet treat, but this isn’t a good idea. By this time, the tooth enamel will already have become softened and brushing softer tooth enamel will mean a ruin kids teeth. Children’s milk teeth have a thinner layer of enamel than adult teeth so the effect is exacerbated. It is far better to wait half an hour to an hour until the acid levels in the mouth have normalized as this will allow the tooth enamel to re-harden and some of the minerals are redeposited back into the enamel (Read also: Fun Tooth Brushing).
Best Way to Save Your Kid’s Smile
- Make sure they spit out excess toothpaste but don’t rinse as some fluoride will remain on their teeth, protecting them
- Your kid should brush before breakfast rather than waiting until afterwards when tooth enamel is softened
- Make sure they brush for a full 2 minutes
- Get them to drink soda or fruit juice through a straw to minimize contact with teeth
- Cut down on snacking or provide tooth-friendly treats such as cheese