With Halloween just around the corner, the cavity and sugar questions are starting to rise up and take over the minds of parents everywhere. Is sugar really that bad for my child’s teeth? Should I let my child eat chocolate? How many of pieces of candy can my child eat a day?
These questions and many others are all perfectly valid seeing as children will be carting pillowcases full of candy back into their homes in just a short week. So what is the verdict on sugar, candy, and teeth? Let’s look at some of the facts about sugar and suit up for this Halloween’s candy fiasco.
KNOW HOW MUCH SUGAR IS TOO MUCH SUGAR THIS HALLOWEEN
Does Sugar Cause Cavities?
The short answer is yes, sugar does cause cavities. The long answer is a bit more complicated, but stick with me and we’ll unwrap it one step at a time. Firstly, sugar doesn’t directly cause holes to form in your teeth but acts more as a food source for the bacteria living in your mouth. The bacteria use the sugar found in your mouth to create acids and form plaque, which erodes tooth enamel, and causes those painful little holes.
Every time we eat candy or anything else high in sugar content we are basically feeding the bacteria in our mouths and encouraging the growth of plaque and the wear down of tooth enamel. If plaque is left on our teeth, over time cavities will form and continue to worsen without treatment.
How Much Sugar Can My Child Eat?
There are a lot of factors that go into deciding how much sugar your child can safely eat however, the American Heart Association reported that full grown men should only have a 150 calories worth of sugar a day and women only 100 calories of sugar a day. Those scary numbers bode even worse for children who are a lot smaller than full-grown adults.
In regards to teeth, eating a large amount of sugar in one sitting is better than eating a little bit of sugar spread throughout the day. The American Dental Association has recommended eating sweets with meals and to avoid snacking constantly. After eating something sweet your mouth continually produces acid and plaque for 30 minutes. So after each bite of candy, the 30-minute process begins again and you produce teeth-wearing acid and plaque for the next half hour. Eating sweets at a meal or in a single sitting allows the 30-minute process to happen all at once instead of continuously.
How Do I Protect My Child’s Teeth from Sugar?
Allowing your child to eat sugar on Halloween or throughout the year doesn’t have to result in cavities with proper dental care. In addition to cutting down on sugar a little and eating it in one sitting, you can sprinkle some other dental practices into your child’s routine to keep their teeth cavity free. Have your child drink water after bites of candy or sips of sugary drinks to help them wash away the sugar in their mouth that the bacteria use to create acid. You can also incorporate dairy products into their diet that contain minerals that strengthen the teeth and fruits and vegetables that stimulate saliva production to help wash away sugar.
The American Dental Association also suggests including fluoride in your child’s daily dental routine as it can not only stop tooth decay but reverse it in the early stages as well. Ensure your child is using toothpaste that contains fluoride and is visiting the dentist regularly. The dentist will keep an eye out for potential problems, recommend optimal dental routines for your child, and remove any stubborn plaque that your child could not remove with the standard toothbrush.
The facts about sugar don’t have to spoil your child’s holiday fun. Knowing the effects of sugar and the role it plays in cavities can help you better prepare for that frightening night when all candy breaks loose. Contact your dentist today for more tooth protection tips and have a safe Halloween filled with fun and fright.