You know that sugar can be bad for your kids’ smiles. It can lead to cavities, and too much sugar increases their likelihood of developing gum disease. But what can be done about it? Limiting kids’ sugar can feel like a battle, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Your preventive dentist has a few tips to help your whole family develop healthier habits, including consuming less sugar and more smile-friendly foods.
Helping Your Kids Eat Healthier Can Help Protect Their Smiles
You already know that your kids need to be eating fruits, vegetables, dairy and lean protein to build strong bodies. But did you know their dietary choices can also have drastic effects on their oral health?
To help protect their precious smiles, it’s important to provide them with plenty of healthy foods, and also to avoid too much sugar, which can lead to dental decay.
One of the simplest things you can do is start reading your packaged foods’ labels. While many healthy foods like fruit and milk have naturally occurring sugars, it is best to avoid a lot of added sugars, which could be listed as cane sugar, corn syrup, or simply dextrose. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, people three-years-old and over shouldn’t be eating anymore than 12.5 teaspoons of added sugar each day. The World Health Organization offers even more stringent guidelines, suggesting kids limit added sugars to three teaspoons a day, and adults to 6 teaspoons.
Even seemingly healthy foods like granola bars, yogurts, juices or sports drinks can sometimes be incredibly high in added sugar, so check the labels before adding anything to your cart.
Since drinks are often enjoyed over longer periods of time than foods, sugary beverages can be especially dangerous to the teeth. Try to limit your kids’ drinks to milk and water, which are the safest options for their smiles. (Milk also provides nutrients needed for both strong teeth and strong bones!)
Obviously even with a healthy diet and regular dental hygiene, it is important to make sure your children attend regular checkups and cleanings, in order to keep their smiles healthy.