With candy consumption at an all time high, many parents are concerned about their children’s sugar intake, and with good reason. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), children aged 2-18 should not consume more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar each day. Many children will consume more than that by breakfast! One 8 ounce glass of Minute Maid Orange Juice has 24 grams of sugar alone. Add in a bowl of cereal, such as Lucky Charms with 11.3 grams of sugar in 1 cup of cereal, and your child has already consumed almost a third more added sugar they are recommended to consume for the entire day!
You may be wondering why your orthodontic office cares so much about the added sugars in your child’s diet. We care because these sugars not only “increase cardiovascular disease risk” according to the AHA, but also increase their risk for tooth decay. It’s not only the sugar that contributes to tooth decay, but also the high acidity sodas and sports drinks. So how exactly does tooth decay occur? The bacteria in our mouths convert the sugar in foods and beverages into acid, which if left on our teeth weakens the enamel, which makes them susceptible to decay.
But how can we reduce the risk of tooth decay? One way is to only drink sodas and sports drinks in moderation, and to drink them quickly (not sipping them over a long period of time), to reduce the amount of time your teeth are exposed to the acids and sugars. Another way is to drink through a straw. Rinsing your mouth out with water after having a sugary drink is a great way to dilute the sugars. And of course, you should be drinking plenty of water throughout the day.