Sugar is just about everywhere.
It’s impossible to avoid the sweet stuff when it’s contained in almost all of the food or drink in our kitchens – even the water; Vitamin Water® is really just corn-syrup water, for crying out loud!
And try as you might, it is practically impossible to keep your children from eating or drinking to too much of it, because you can’t always keep them cooped up at home. They’ll get their sugar fix at school, at a friend’s house, anywhere – sugar, as fate would have, always seems to find a way.
Eating too much sugar, combined with irregular dental hygiene habits, is a combination that is sure to spell a swift decline in the quality and health of their smiles.
The bacteria responsible for causing gingivitis and gum disease love sugar more than your children, if you can believe it, and when those bacteria “eat” sugars left behind after a cookie or a soda, they create acids as a byproduct. That acid will erode the enamel of their teeth without delay, and if untreated, will cause cavities and eventually full-blown tooth decay.
Failing to keep your family’s smile intact can be hurtful to you and your children. For you, the cost of picking up the pieces and dealing with cavities and other smile-destroying conditions is more expensive than any preventative measure could be. For your kids, the pain of toothaches and the damage to their self-esteem will hurt them for years.
Worse, children who consume too much sugar are at a higher risk for serious health conditions, and are more likely to develop obesity, which itself can lead to many other problems, including juvenile diabetes.
You need to know how to identify the good sugars from the bad sugars, and how to minimize the effects upon the oral health of your entire family.
Natural vs. Refined Sugars
Not all sugar is created equally. Of course there is sugar in, say, an apple, but those sugars are simple, natural carbohydrates.
The kind of sugar that you want watch out for is known as refined sugar. Those are the white crystals you might put in your coffee or in a cake you’re baking. They are linked to a wide number of health problems in children and adults, including diabetes and heart disease.
The number one thing you can do is actively cut out or drastically reduce the refined sugars in your family’s diet. It’s not as difficult as you might think, in large part because there are more organic, natural alternatives to a variety of food staples than ever before.
Placing a greater emphasis on foods that contain natural sugars can be a good compromise compared to just eliminating all sugar entirely. Such a compromise will allow your child to enjoy the sweeter things in life without risking the more disastrous consequences that follow their refined counterparts, and help them to build good eating habits.
Beware of Processed Foods
Of course, knowing which foods you should provide to your family is only half the battle. What about the foods you should avoid?
Obviously, sodas and candies should be your number one targets for elimination, or replacement with healthier alternatives. You should, however, be on the lookout for so-called “processed” foods. That typically includes frozen or ready-made foods, as well as the vast majority of fast foods.
You might not know this, but the largest source of refined sugars in a child’s diet comes from these very processed foods. Just because you’ve removed candy and soda from their diet doesn’t mean you’ve eliminated refined sugars completely, and in fact, by ignoring processed foods, you are still allowing the largest source of refined sugar to remain unchecked in your household.
As before, there are a multitude of healthy alternative to processed foods in this day and age of “organic” this and “green” that, so quit making excuses and change your family’s diet for the better.
No matter what you do, you must get your child into my office to receive the most complete family dental care in Nashua, NH. Failing to do so can allow cavities to wreak total havoc if they are already present.
If you combine a reduction in the amount of refined sugars in your family’s diet with regular checkups and cleanings from your Nashua family dentist, you can break the cycle of sugar-induced cavities once and for all!