How Harmful Are Sweets And Sugar To Children's Teeth

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How Harmful Are Sweets And Sugar To Children's Teeth

How Harmful Are Sweets And Sugar To Children's Teeth?

For a long time, dental caries has been associated with high caloric and sugar-rich diet.

However, the extent of the damage and destructive capabilities that sugar can have on a child’s teeth are usually not fully acknowledged by many parents. Moreover, this can lead to serious health issues.

Therefore, it is vital to understand the impact that consuming excessive sweets can have and, moreover, how to prevent damage.

Furthermore, although sweets can be highly harmful to your children's teeth, there is no need to remove them entirely from their diet. Keeping good oral health will be enough to prevent them from developing cavities, especially if you brush your children’s teeth with the FOSOO electric toothbrushes.

Why Do Sweets Cause Caries?

Caries is not directly caused by the sugar on the sweets but by bacteria present in the mouth. However, bacteria use sugar as fuel to produce caries.

The human mouth is colonized by hundreds of different types of bacteria. This is called oral microbiota, and it is responsible for many crucial physiological functions, such as aiding digestion and preventing external harmful bacteria colonization.

However, not every bacteria in the oral microbiota is beneficial. Such is the case of Streptococcus Mutans and S. Sobrinus, which play an essential role in caries formation.

These bacteria can be found on the biofilm, commonly referred to as plaque, that builds up around your children’s teeth. They eat the sugar leftover from sweets to metabolize them and use them as nutrients for their survival. This process releases over teeth the acids that are responsible for causing caries.

When the biofilm and the acid byproduct are not removed, either by brushing or rinsing, the acid begins to demineralize the tooth. Although it starts as an unnoticeable white spot on the enamel, it can quickly progress until a small cavity is formed.

This cavity can look like a small dark hole in the teeth. However, caries will keep progressing, demineralizing both enamel and dentin, and reaching deeper tooth layers. This not only destroys teeth tissues but also causes pain and infection. Lastly resulting in tooth loss if not treated on time.

Furthermore, sweets can also cause an aggressive and harmful type of caries that is only present in children called early childhood caries.

Early Childhood Caries

This type of caries, also known as baby bottle tooth decay, can affect toddlers and infants.

It is characterized by its horizontal pattern and brown coloration and affects mainly the upper frontal teeth. However, in severe cases, it can extend to other areas such as the lower teeth and molars.

Early childhood caries can be highly painful for children and interfere with their eating habits while creating speech issues. Moreover, it can lead to early tooth extraction, affecting the correct development of the bone and reducing the space for the permanent teeth to erupt. Therefore, often causing malocclusion and the need for orthodontic treatment.

The main reasons for early childhood caries include:

  • Inadequate oral health: Not brushing the child’s teeth after eating can leave food residues on the mouth for prolonged times, which can cause caries.
  • Excessive sugar on the food: Adding extra sugar to the child’s milk or formula can increase the risk of developing caries.
  • Sleeping with the bottle in the mouth: if the child falls asleep while having the bottle, bacteria will have a constant supply of nutrients to induce cavity formation. This is the main cause of early childhood caries.
  • Dipping the pacifier on honey: Same as sleeping with the bottle, it provides a constant and unnecessary supply of nutrients to bacteria.

It is essential to know that children are not born with cariogenic microbiota, meaning that the bacteria responsible for causing caries is later acquired throughout life. Therefore, it is vital to prevent contaminating the toddler's spoon or bottle with the parents' saliva. Doing so will pass the harmful bacteria to their mouth and increase the risk of developing caries early on.

Additional Sweets Problems

Another issue with the sweets is their capability of getting stuck between teeth and on their crevices. As some of them can be sticky, small portions can get trapped and be difficult to remove. Therefore, providing sugar to bacteria for long periods and causing great damage.

Furthermore, hard candies can also represent a big problem to your children’s teeth. Not only do they increase the risk of caries development due to the sugar but also the risk of dental fracture. Although both deciduous and permanent teeth are resistant, biting down a hard candy can be enough to chip a cusp or produce an extensive fracture that could lead to its extraction.

How To Prevent Sugar Damage?

Reducing sugar intake is the first step. However, it is not necessary to stop giving sweets to your children.

There are many recommendations, such as:

  • Leave the sweets after eating a meal:

Saliva production is increased during this time. Therefore, helping remove sugar leftovers and preventing caries.

  • Practice good oral hygiene:

Brushing your children's teeth at least twice a day will remove biofilm and prevent bacteria from metabolizing sugar. Furthermore, if your children are old enough, a sonic electric toothbrush will enhance their oral health.

Flossing is also essential as it is the only way to remove anything trapped between teeth.

  • Use fluoride:

Fluoride toothpaste will keep your children’s teeth protected. Just make sure not to use too much to prevent fluorosis and ensure that your children do not swallow it. Your dentist can perform topic fluoride applications during regular checkups.

Sweets are the number one enemy of your children’s teeth as bacteria use the sugar left behind by them to produce caries and harm the teeth. Although it can be hard to spot sometimes, caries is capable of producing great damage that affects not only a child’s teeth but their overall health as it can result in infectious, speech problems, and nutritional deficiencies.

However, this damage can be easily prevented by developing good oral care habits early on and making periodic visits to the dentist. Furthermore, as long as the proper care is taken and consumption is controlled, you can keep giving your children the sweets they like while maintaining a healthy smile.

REFERENCES:

Aas, J. A., Griffen, A. L., Dardis, S. R., Lee, A. M., Olsen, I., Dewhirst, F. E., Leys, E. J., & Paster, B. J. (2008). Bacteria of dental caries in primary and permanent teeth in children and young adults. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 46(4), 1407–1417. https://doi.org/10.1128/jcm.01410-07

American Dental Association. (n.d.). Baby Bottle tooth decay. Mouth Healthy TM. Retrieved January 8, 2022, from https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/baby-bottle-tooth-decay

Arweiler, N. B., & Netuschil, L. (2016). The oral microbiota. Microbiota of the Human Body, 45–60. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-31248-4_4

Cafasso, J. (2017, September 29). Baby Bottle tooth decay (infant caries). Healthline. Retrieved January 8, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/tooth-decay-early-childhood#causes

Friedman, M. (2019, October 9). Foods and drinks best for your teeth. WebMD. Retrieved January 8, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/diet-oral-health

Godel, J. (2002). The use of fluoride in infants and children. Paediatrics & Child Health, 7(8), 569–572. https://doi.org/10.1093/pch/7.8.569

Kawada-Matsuo, M., Oogai, Y., & Komatsuzawa, H. (2016). Sugar allocation to metabolic pathways is tightly regulated and affects the virulence of streptococcus mutans. Genes, 8(1), 11. https://doi.org/10.3390/genes8010011

Skafida, V., & Chambers, S. (2017). Positive association between sugar consumption and dental decay prevalence independent of oral hygiene in pre-school children: A longitudinal prospective study. Journal of Public Health, 40(3). https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/fdx184

Sugar can affect your child’s Oral Health. Children’s Dental Center. (2018, February 13). Retrieved January 8, 2022, from https://www.dentistjustforkids.com/sugar-can-affect-childs-oral-health/

Tan, V. (2017, April 6). How sugar causes cavities and Destroys your teeth. Healthline. Retrieved January 8, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-sugar-destroys-teeth

Tungare, S. (2021, August 16). Early childhood caries. StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved January 8, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK535349/#_NBK535349_pubdet_

Whelan, C. (2021, January 8). Why do my teeth hurt when I eat sweets? Healthline. Retrieved January 8, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/dental-and-oral-health/why-do-my-teeth-hurt-when-i-eat-sweets

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