“Mommy, can I have a juice box, please?” If this question is commonly asked in your household, you’re not alone. Parents often have no problem providing their little one with a so-called “healthy” alternative to soda. What you may not realize is that these companies use persuasive packaging and words to make you think your child is ingesting something nutritious. The truth is these drinks are filled with large amounts of sugar and causing children’s cavities to be on the rise. Read on to find out more about these beverages and what you can do to better protect your child’s smile.
WHAT CAUSES CAVITIES?
If you are wondering what dental problem pediatric dentists see most, it is tooth decay. Children are far more prone to developing cavities because of their novice oral hygiene skills and the inability to thoroughly clean their teeth at a such a young age. It’s also believed that many of the beverages kids consume are contributing to an increase in cavities.
So, how exactly do cavities form?
When your child consumes a beverage or food item that contains sugar, bacteria known as mutans streptococcus form. Producing harmful acid, it begins to eat away at the outer layer of the tooth known as the enamel. If the bacteria is left untreated, it can continue to travel deeper, reaching the dentin and eventually the nerves and blood vessels.
If you are making sure your child visits their pediatric dentist every six months, a cavity can be caught during a regular dental checkup and cleaning. By performing a visual examination as well as reviewing dental X-Rays, the dental professional can treat the cavity by placing a filling or even recommending preventive treatment to slow the progression.
SAFEGUARDING THEIR SMILE: WAYS TO PROTECT THEIR TEETH
If you want to better protect your child’s smile from the start, there are some helpful tips to follow that will keep their teeth cavity-free:
- Make sure they’re brushing twice a day for a full two minutes using fluoride toothpaste. Talk to your child’s pediatric dentist about how much is necessary to avoid overuse. This will remove bacteria and food particles attempting to adhere to teeth.
- Ensure they are flossing, especially before bed, to remove bad bacteria between teeth.
- Keep their regular six-month dental checkups and cleanings with their pediatric dentist
- Choose to give your child water instead of juice or soda to minimize the amount of sugar they are ingesting
- Help them maintain a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet and opt for healthier snack alternatives (i.e. fruit, raw vegetables, low-fat dairy)
The next time you’re at the grocery store, don’t be deceived by the marketing tactics of some of these companies. Read the labels, make sure you’re choosing items that are nutritious for you and your family, and maintain a daily oral hygiene routine for healthy, more beautiful smiles.
About the Author
Dr. Dennis Bear is a board-certified pediatric dentist based in McKinney, TX. As a father of two young children, he understands the difficulties that can come with choosing the right foods and beverages for your child. With so many containing large amounts of sugar, it’s important to make sure you are working to help keep their teeth healthy and cavity-free with regular dental checkups and cleanings, practicing good oral habits at home, and maintaining a proper diet. If you need help in determining how to better protect your child’s smile, visit our website or call (469) 598-2327.