Tooth decay is a dental health issue that can affect children. While their baby teeth do fall out, tooth decay at any age can be problematic. One of the biggest culprits of tooth decay in young kids come from many of the drinks that we give them. So how does soda and juice affect toddler’s teeth?
Supermarket shelves are packed with drinks marketed as “healthy” but really contain massive amounts of sugar. The World Health Organization (WHO) advises limiting sugar to only 10% of a toddler’s daily caloric intake. At three years old, daily caloric intake is roughly 1,100 calories. That equates to only 5.5 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Most sodas and juices contain nearly triple that amount in a single serving!
How Does Sugar Decay Teeth?
Before you completely ditch all forms of sugar, it is important to understand how sugar affects tooth enamel. Sugar alone is not the issue. What does cause the damage is acid.
When bacteria in your toddler’s mouth use sugar as their food source to break down into energy, acids are released. This acid then begins to break down the enamel and remove important minerals from your toddler’s teeth. The end result… tooth decay, rot, cavities, toothaches, and tooth sensitivity.
How Can My Toddler Avoid Tooth Decay?
The obvious answer is to avoid sugary substances. However, the occasional sugary treat is okay. But, when it comes to beverages, choose those with low to no sugar. One of the best beverages for a child is water. Water helps to wash away bacteria in the mouth and on the teeth. It also keeps your tongue moist, which helps with saliva production.
A fun way to get your toddler to drink more water is by adding fruit. Fruit infused water provides a delicious flavor without adding refined sugars and other harmful ingredients.
Milk is another excellent beverage choice. Milk contains calcium and vitamin d, both are nutrients that are essential for building strong bones and teeth. Opt for plain milk vs chocolate milk. Also look for milk with no added sugars or flavors.
Does Brushing Teeth After Drinking Soda Help Avoid Tooth Decay?
Brushing your toddler’s teeth after consuming soda or juice can help to rid the mouth of the acid causing bacteria. However, doctors recommend to wait at least 30 to 60 minutes after consuming sugary drinks. The teeth are sensitive immediately after consuming sugar. The friction caused by brushing the teeth can actually spread the bacteria. It is recommended to swish the mouth out with water. This can be done immediately after consuming a sugary drink.
Other Tips for Avoiding Tooth Decay
Additional measures can prevent tooth decay. It is always recommended to practice good dental hygiene and avoid sugary beverages altogether. However, these tips can help your toddler when they have an occasional soda or juice.
- Drink in moderation. Don’t allow your toddler to have more than one soft drink or juice each day. Just one will do damage enough.
- Dilute Juice Drinks. Diluting juice drinks with water reduced the amount of pure juice your toddler drinks, therefore, reducing the amount of sugar.
- Use a straw. Drinking through a straw will keep acids and sugars away from the teeth.
- Avoid soft drinks before bedtime. Even with regular brushing, it is recommended to avoid giving your toddler juice or soda before bed.
- Get regular dental cleanings. Regular checkups and exams will identify problems before they worsen.
Ready to book your child’s first dental appointment? At 1st Family Dental we cater to families and children. If you are in the Chicago area, contact us to book an appointment at one of our 6 dental clinics in the city of Chicago. If you are in the suburbs then check one of our 8 convenient suburban locations, including Aurora, Elgin, Mount Prospect, and Burr Ridge, IL!