What Sugar Really Does to Children’s Teeth

Child holding a lollipop
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A lot of things can happen inside the mouth in just 20 seconds. Within that amount of time, the bacteria inside starts to actively work to convert sugar into acid, which is the main culprit in the destruction of a person’s tooth enamel — the hard surface layer of the teeth that provides protection.

This is the reason it’s highly important for parents to monitor their children’s sugar consumption. While everyone is aware that too much sugar intake can cause tooth decay, only a few are fully aware of how exactly it takes place.

The truth is, it’s not the sugar itself that causes damage to oral health, but the series of events that follow after finishing that bag of candies.

Dentists for children in Utah highly recommend teaching your little ones about the dangers of sugar on the teeth, and they might just be more inclined to heed your advice about proper dental care. Here are just some of the important things you need to know:

How the Process Works

As briefly explained earlier, tooth decay happens when the bacteria inside the mouth creates the acids that can eat away and dissolve the different layers of the tooth — the enamel, dentin, and pulp.

As the decay further enters inside the tooth, it causes bigger damage, and the pain becomes even more unbearable. Sugar does not eat away the teeth per se, but it’s responsible for feeding the bacteria inside the mouth, which builds more acid and speeds up the decaying process. That’s why the more sugary and acidic substances you consume, the more damaged your teeth become.

The Cause of the Problem

Child with tooth decayThe biggest cause of tooth decay is soda, as it’s filled with refined sugars and has a naturally high amount of acidity. Even diet soda can be blamed.

There might not be any conclusive scientific research which proves that artificial sweeteners have the same destructive effects as natural sugars, but the high acidity levels of diet sodas alone are enough to accelerate the process of tooth decay.

Sports drinks and fruit juices, on the other hand, may not have the same amount of acids as most soda brands, but they still have a huge amount of sugar per serving. As more people believe that drinking fruit juices is a healthier option, they’re not fully aware of the actual effects these drinks have on the body.

For example, 2 ounces of apple juice has 33g of sugar, whereas 12 ounces of Coca Cola has 39g of sugar. When we think about it, there’s not much difference at all. Even popular sports drinks such as Gatorade also have enough acidity and sugar levels to speed up tooth decay.

However, it’s not just about the drinks that we consume. A discussion of tooth decay isn’t complete without bringing up candies. Common sugary treats such as gummy bears are among the most dangerous, as they’re almost made up entirely of sugar.

In addition, because of their sticky texture, they can stay inside the mouth for much longer, further contributing to acid buildup and tooth problems.

On Starting Them Early

Teach children healthy eating habits at an early age; whatever they consume has direct effects on their dental health. Encourage them to eat food items that are low in sugar for stronger, healthier teeth.

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