Halloween is a great time for kids to dress up and go trick-or-treating with friends and family, but it’s important to remind them that over-eating sugar is not good for their bodies. Furthermore, sugar severely impacts kids dental health, causing painful tooth decay. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), kids should consume less than six teaspoons of sugar. Six teaspoons are equivalent to about 25 grams—a far cry from the exuberant amount of sugar in a can of soda (around 39 grams and up). We know how hard it can be to tell a kid not to do something when they see everyone else doing it, so here are a few tips to help them curb their candy cravings:
Tips for curbing candy cravings
1. Reward positive nutrition choices with praise!
Let kids know that they made a good decision by choosing to eat a mini bag of pretzels instead of a chocolate bar. This way, they feel good knowing that what they chose to do made their parents and/or guardians proud.
2. Offer alternatives to kids with a sweet tooth.
A healthy alternative that doesn’t contain any added artificial sugar is a piece of fruit! Fruit is just as delicious and sweet, yet it is packed with the nutritional value that candy does not have. It’s important to note that even though fruit is lower in sugar and the sugars are natural, too much is never good.
3. Substitute a sugar craving with a fruit-infused drink.
This is not to get confused with a fruit juice or fruit-flavored drink! Most fruit-flavored drinks and fruit juices contain a ton of added sugars. By adding a few pieces of fruit to a glass of water, you can create a sweeter version of water without all of the excess sugar.
How does sugar affect kids dental health?
Sugar wreaks havoc on kids dental health, causing painful tooth decay (cavities), and feeding the bacteria that cause gum disease in the mouth. Here are some of the negative oral health effects due to overeating sugar:
1. Sugar lowers the pH of the mouth
When the pH drops below 5.5, it is considered acidic. In this environment, bacteria thrive, and cavities start to form.
2. Bacteria grow and spread where sugar is present
As sugar is the food that bacteria in the mouth eat, the more sugar there is, the more bacteria grow and thrive in the mouth. The same bacteria may cause cavities as well as gum disease. This is why it’s so important to manage sugar intake as well as brush and floss teeth daily.
3. Tooth loss may occur
Even kids can lose their adult teeth! If a cavity becomes so large that the tooth is unsavable, the tooth may have to be extracted (taken out).
Advanced Children’s Dentistry is a fun and educational dental practice on Long Island, NY where our little patients feel safe and comfortable. Schedule your child’s pediatric dental appointment at 516-758-KIDS.