We all want to make sure that we take care of our children’s teeth, but is simply encouraging regular tooth brushing and flossing enough? Although practising good oral hygiene is a fantastic step in the right direction, should parents be more mindful about what children put into their mouths?
Soft drinks, such as fizzy pop, fruit cordials and fruit juices are very popular amongst children and are almost considered at commonplace in their everyday diet. However, the sugar that these drinks contain mean that they are not the best choice of refreshment for our children.
Drinking too much sugar can cause a whole range of health problems, let alone impacting greatly on the health of teeth and gums. Regularly drinking sugary drinks can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and dental cavities.
How drinking sugar affects teeth
When your child takes a sugary drink, they are effectively bathing the surface of their teeth and gums in a sugary solution that makes it easy for sugars to latch onto teeth. Everyone has normal healthy bacteria inside their mouths, and this aids in breaking down food for digestion. However, this bacteria will feed off the sugar that is stuck to the surface of the teeth and produce acid that will eventually start to erode away the tooth enamel.
As tooth enamel is eroded away by plaque acid, the tooth becomes weaker because the enamel layer is what protects the soft dentine and tooth nerve found inside each tooth. As the enamel is weakened it makes it easier for cavities to develop.
Protect your child from tooth decay
To help protect your child from tooth decay, or at least reduce the chances of them developing it, is to avoid giving your child sugary drinks to consume whenever possible. Avoiding fruit juices, squashes and fizzy drinks will cut the chances of your child developing tooth decay greatly. Instead, offer your child plenty of water to drink throughout the day and evening, and serve them full fat milk to drink – full fat milk contains less natural sugar than skimmed milk and has lots of beneficial vitamins and minerals that can help to keep their teeth strong.
If you think your child must have fruit juice drinks, then make sure you dilute it well with water. Remember that fruit juices are concentrated to a high level, meaning there are a lot of fruit acids and sugars in them that can attack teeth.
Encourage your children to drink plenty of water and rinse their mouth out to minimise any of the sugar that remains in their mouth after having a sugary drink.
Buy a lightweight water bottle that is easy for your child to carry with them in hot weather. This means that while out and about they will always have water ready to drink when thirsty and it will help to prevent you having to buy them sugary drinks from shops to cool down.