Many different types of food can cause tooth decay in children, not just candy. Foods high in carbohydrates – as well as some fruits, juices and sodas, peanut butter, crackers and potato chips – also attack children’s teeth. It’s important to understand not only what foods children eat but also the frequency particular foods are eaten and how long they remain as particles in the mouth.
What About Soda?
In addition to serious ailments later in life (e.g. diabetes, osteoporosis, etc.), dentists believe kids who consume too much soda and not enough nutritional beverages are more prone to tooth decay. Even if children drink soda occasionally, any prolonged exposure to soda can cause damage. Sipping a soft drink all afternoon is more harmful to teeth than drinking a large soda with a meal and then not drinking any soda for the rest of the day.
Drinking carbonated soft drinks regularly – or over a long period of time – contributes to the erosion of tooth enamel and enamel breakdown leads to cavities. If erosion spreads beneath the enamel, pain and sensitivity may eventually result. This can cause nerve infection, in which case a root canal might even be necessary.
Children at school should rinse their mouths with water after meals, leaving their teeth free of sugar and acid. Children should also seek sources of fluoridation. One good source of fluoride is from fluoridated bottled water. Or, if the local water supply is fluoridated, encourage children to drink tap or fountain water.
Children should use a straw when drinking soda to keep sugar away from teeth. In fact, even bottled juices should be consumed with a straw, due to the high sugar content. Furthermore, consider sugary drinks from a can or box rather than a bottle with a replaceable cap to discourage prolonged exposure.
Children should also be supervised as they brush. Generally, when children can dress themselves and tie their own shoes (4-5 years of age), then they are ready to brush unsupervised. However, children should be supervised in proper flossing techniques at least until the age of 10.
If you have any concerns about your child’s dental health, or want some additional tips on preventing tooth decay, give our office a call.