How Does Sugar Impact My Child’s Teeth?

It’s no secret that kids (and adults) love sugar. Unfortunately, while sugar might seem harmless, it can have some troubling impacts on your child’s teeth and their health.

Sugar is a major player in the chain of events leading to tooth decay, and the sources of sugar in your child’s diet may surprise you. Let’s take a closer look at how sugar impacts your child’s teeth and how you can fight back against tooth decay.

Sugar and the mouth’s bacteria

There are several types of bacteria that live in a person’s mouth. While some bacteria are good for your dental health, other bacteria can be harmful to your teeth. This is where the tooth decay process begins.

When you eat foods that contain sugar, such as a cookie, traces of those sugars remain in your mouth even when you’re done chewing and swallowing. Those sugars will remain on your teeth until the next time you brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with water. This is a problem because the trace sugars on your teeth feed the bad bacteria in your mouth.

These harmful bacteria produce acids in your mouth whenever they come across sugar and digest it. The acids produced by these harmful bacteria remove important minerals from your tooth enamel. Your tooth enamel is the protective covering of your teeth that prevents sensitivity and tooth decay.

Demineralization and remineralization

When bacteria produce acids that remove minerals from your tooth enamel it’s called mineralization. Fortunately, your saliva helps to naturally reverse this damage in a process known as remineralization. Your saliva contains minerals like phosphate and calcium, which helps your enamel repair itself. Your enamel replaces the minerals lost during demineralization with the new minerals from remineralization to help strengthen your teeth.

The bad news is that remineralization isn’t always enough to fend off the effects of demineralization. Over time, the acids that are produced by the harmful bacteria in your mouth will eat away at your enamel until it’s weakened and destroyed. This process forms a cavity. Cavities are when a hole is created in the tooth due to the acid production of the harmful bacteria in your mouth.

Cavities are able to spread into deeper layers of the tooth if the cavity is left untreated. It’s important to see childrens dentists to prevent cavities from spreading and causing pain and potential health issues. Common signs of tooth decay include sensitivity to cold or hot drinks, sensitivity to sweet foods, pain when chewing food, and toothaches.

Fighting back against tooth decay

Many of our foods and drinks contain sugar even when we’re not aware of it. For instance, researchers found that exposure to energy drinks such as Rockstar, Monster, and Red Bull resulted in twice as much enamel loss as exposure to sports drinks like Gatorade, Propel, and Powerade. That being said, it’s a good idea to look at the sugar content of the foods and drinks your child is consuming.

Try to reduce the amount of sugary foods and drinks your child consumes to help fight back against tooth decay. Avoid eating too many carbohydrates as well. This is because breads and crackers also contain sugars that feed the harmful bacteria in your mouth.

You can also help fight back against harmful bacteria by swishing water around your mouth after you eat to prevent sugars and other food particles from sticking to your teeth.

Take care of your teeth

Reducing the amount of sugar your child eats isn’t enough to combat tooth decay. It’s also important to emphasize good dental hygiene. Brushing your teeth twice a day will help to keep sugars and harmful bacteria off your teeth while also preventing plaque and tartar build-up.

Every six months, your child needs to visit their local childrens dentists for a professional cleaning. A professional cleaning by childrens dentists is crucial because only a professional dentist can remove tartar from your child’s teeth. Plaque can be removed by a toothbrush, but tartar needs a tougher tool. With regular visits to your childrens dentists and regular tooth brushing twice a day, you can help to keep your child’s teeth in great shape.

Are you looking for pediatric dentists in South Riding VA, Dulles, or Sterling? Smilez Pediatric Dental Group has the childrens dentists for you. To learn more about our dental services or to schedule an appointment, contact Smilez Pediatric Dental Group today.