Our children are facing an epidemic: they are suffering a preventable illness, and we’re largely to blame. In Pennsylvania, family dentistry definitely has a role to play in the prevention of cavities (and especially in fixing them!), it’s up to parents to take the lead in ensuring that children consume less sugar, which is the primary food for oral bacteria that lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and even systemic illness.

Overconsumption of Sugar

Chocolate by Siona Watson on FlickrAccording to the recommendations of the American Heart Association (AHA), a healthy amount of sugar for an adult man would be about 9 teaspoons per day. By contrast, the average American child consumes about 33 teaspoons of sugar a day. Most of this sugar goes into the child’s system and can lead to health problems such as obesity and systemic inflammation, which some claim has serious health consequences.

However, all the sugar your child eats passes through their mouth (well, except for the odd choco-puff that goes in the nose), where it also feeds oral bacteria that have evolved into a parasitic relationship where they feed on our sugar and excrete acid that attacks our teeth and gums.

Parents Make the Decisions

Ultimately, most or all of the food children eat is given to them by their parents. Parents make decisions about what kids eat and drink, and it is they who have to commit to reducing children’s sugar intake. Interestingly, parents are obviously making different decisions for themselves than for their children, as the average adult in the US only consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. Although this is still above the AHA recommendation by a considerable amount, there is no reason why we should be giving our children 50% more sugar than we ourselves consume.

In order to improve our children’s oral health, we have to try to limit the main sources of added sugar in our children’s diets, including:

  • Soda and soft drinks (which have the added danger of being highly acidic)
  • Sugar added to food (such as cereal)
  • Candy
  • Desserts like cakes and cookies
  • Fruit drinks
  • Ice cream and milk
  • Grain foods

Parents need to be aware of the amount of sugar their kids are consuming and encourage them to eat less.

And along with this, it’s important to make sure your kids are learning good oral hygiene habits. Brush their teeth twice a day with nonfluoridated toothpaste until they’re old enough to avoid swallowing it. Don’t forget to floss once their teeth begin touching and brushing can’t get all the surfaces. And, of course, don’t forget to make regular dental checkups!

If you are looking for a family dentist in Blue Bell, please call 610-272-0828 for an appointment at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell.