What Are the Best Sugar Alternatives for Children?
We all know children and sugar could be best friends if we let them. It’s a rare thing to find a kid who doesn’t love candy and snacking sweet foods like cookies, ice cream, gummies, etcetera. They just love them.
But this is something we can call a toxic friendship. Sometimes love hurts, and the love for sugar is the best example that it is true. Sugar and teeth are a terrible combination. It is a common error to think those baby teeth or primary teeth are less important than permanent teeth.
Kids are growing and developing machines. They need proper mental and physical nurturing, and their teeth are not an exception. A tooth is made of bone, and just as the rest of your children’s bones are collecting nutrients in order to be stronger, so are teeth.
What happens to a kid’s primary teeth can affect the permanent or secondary ones that are being formed right above the baby’s denture. Cavities are a common but grave oral health issue that can damage permanent teeth before they even come out.
Children can suffer the consequences of tooth decay as much as adults. They can experiment bad breath, pain, gum diseases (like periodontitis), infections, and more. That’s why dental healthcare professionals like pediatric dentists insist so much on the oral hygiene habits of kids.
Why Is Sugar So Bad for Kids’ Teeth?
Since the matter is repeated so much and with such emphasis, we think we owe you a real explanation about the degenerative process that teeth face with sugary foods.
Humans have lots of bacteria normally hanging around in their mouths. This bacteria is responsible for oral infections, bad breath, and even tooth loss. We get rid of it when we properly brush our teeth with the right toothpaste and the right frequency. Flossing is also important in the process of eliminating bacteria.
You may not know this, but bacteria’s only mission is to feed and reproduce. They wander around your mouth, looking for something to eat and a safe place to live and procreate. When they finally find a piece of leftovers in the corner of your molars, or better yet, they find delicious sticky sugar to cling onto, their work is done.
That bacteria creates acid that damages the tooth’s enamel. Think of tooth enamel as a protective plastic. If the plastic is smooth and even, it is super easy to clean. But if the plastic has lots of pores, dirt gets stuck and becomes very hard to clean.
That’s exactly what happens to your teeth. Sugar feeds the bacteria, and bacteria grows and grows until it causes cavities.
Does Sugar Produce Dental Diseases Apart From Cavities?
We often hear talking about how sugar and candy contribute to cavities, but tooth decay is just one of many problems that excess sugar consumption can cause.
People also know tartar by the name of calculus. It is a cape of hardened dental plaque. The accumulation of dental plaque causes a stone-like type of plaque that is difficult to remove and produces bad breath, inflammation of the gums, and other issues.
To deal with dental tartar, you’ll have to visit your dentist’s office since special tools like periodontal scalers will be needed. But to prevent dental calculus flossing, brushing your teeth twice daily is paramount.
Plaque is the previous stage of dental tartar. It is a cumulus of dental bacteria. Dentists call it oral biofilm or bacterial plaque. This bacteria creates an acidic environment that causes gingivitis, other gum infections, and tooth decay.
Good oral hygiene is usually enough to maintain your mouth safe from dental plaque. Brushing your teeth with adequate toothpaste for your personal needs is recommended.
The existence of bleeding gums may feel like a disease, but it is a symptom. Occasional bleeding often indicates the presence of gum disease, whether it is an infection or a different issue.
Sometimes people bleed while brushing their teeth, but it can be due to putting too much pressure on the teeth and gums. Bleeding gums can also be caused by vitamin deficiencies (K and C).
As we said, bleeding gums is usually a symptom of periodontal diseases. Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gingivitis.
When a dentist says a dental patient has got periodontitis, it means that there is an infection located in the gums. This is a serious problem since it can even cause tooth loss due to receding gums.
What Are Some Healthier Substitutes for Sugar?
These days brands seem to be very aware of sugar consumption levels and the negative effects it has not only on children’s dental health but in general health care. It is common to see products advertised as sugar-free and safe, but you should know better.
Here are some healthy and safe alternatives, natural sweeteners and artificial sweeteners, like sugar alcohols, to protect your kid’s teeth from sugar damage.
Stevia is one of the big favorites when people want sugar alternatives because it comes from the plant stevia and therefore is more natural than other sweeteners. But stevia sweeteners are also refined through an industrial process.
The benefits stevia offers rely on your much more limited use of the product when compared to table sugar. Stevia has (GRAS) Generally Recognized as Safe level given by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
This is one of those sugar alcohols, an artificial sweetener. It has benefits such as very low calories and great sweetness. Since it is much sweeter than traditional white sugar, you only need to add a little of it.
What Is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a name that sounds artificial, but it is a natural substitute for sugar that tastes just the same and benefits your teeth and dental health.
It can be obtained from certain plants, but xylitol is also naturally produced by the human body. By moderately increasing the levels of xylitol in your mouth, you help saliva fight the bacteria causing decay and tooth enamel damage.
You can find it as a normal sweetener in chewing gum and toothpaste.
How to Brush Your Kids’ Teeth?
Always remember that oral health and dental care start with dental hygiene. Your kids should have the habit of brushing their teeth twice a day, and we recommend using toothpaste with fluoride if your kid is older than 3.
Children have special needs when it comes to washing their teeth, so we recommend learning about them to make the whole process easier.
Check Your Kid’s Dental Health With a Johns Creek Pediatric Dentist
For children older than 3 years, it’s very important to visit a pediatric dentistry office once or twice a year to make sure everything is fine and help prevent fear of the dentist. Set an appointment with our specialized team and make sure your kids’ teeth are as healthy as they are.