The Fact of the Tooth
Help Reduce Sugary Snacking
By: Jayme Hoelting, RDH
Sugar tastes good and we enjoy eating some, but it is bad for our teeth. “Sucrose (sugar) is the ‘food’ for the bacteria that cause tooth decay,” Dr. Hayes says. “Those bacteria produce acid that etches away the teeth.”
It is a good idea to limit the amount of sugar you and your family eat, not only for your teeth but your overall health. Now that we are into fall and the “sugary” season I have put together some tips to help reduce the amount of sugar we intake.
Limits, Know Them
Keep your eye on added sugar (corn syrup or white sugar, usually found in processed foods) when picking out snacks. Sugars that are found in milk and fruit are naturally occurring and are healthier options.
It is recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that a person age 3 or older should limit their sugar intake to no more than 12.5 tsp. in a single day. (The same as one can of soda.) Also recommended by the World Health Organization, adults should limit their sugar consumption to no more than 6 tsp, and children no more than 3 tsp.
Food labels can be tricky, sugar is usually listed in grams. Just remember 1 tsp. of sugar equals 4 grams. So, make sure your daily sugar intake is between 12 to 50 grams.
Juice – The Truth
For children, water and milk are always going to be the best option. Juice is high in sugar and calories. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends completely removing juice your child’s diet if they are under the age of 1.
There are two important things to remember when offering juice to an older child:
· Ages 1-6 no more than 4-6 oz of juice per day; ages 7-18 no more than 8-12 oz. (Most juice boxes are about 6 oz)
· Sipping on juice throughout the day puts you at higher risk for tooth decay because you are giving the cavity-causing bacteria multiple opportunities to produce the acid that eats away the enamel.
Say No to Soda
Sugary, carbonated beverages are bad news for your teeth. “One can of soda is the amount of sugar recommended for three days for a child,” Dr. Hayes says.
A February 2016 study in the Journal of the American Dental Association found a strong association between sugary drinks and poor dental health in teenagers. Researchers asked teens 14-19 in Mexico about how many sugary beverages they drank, then examined their teeth. The findings were 31.7% had tooth erosion, meaning the enamel of their teeth had been eaten away. The main culprit? Soda.
Sticky Snacks – are well, Sticky
Gummies or fruit snacks are closer to candy than fruit than you might be led to believe. “Fruit rollups and other dried fruit snacks are like nature’s candy,” Dr. Shenkin says. “It is like candy, but in some respect it’s worse than candy because it sticks to teeth longer than things like milk chocolate, which is easier to wash away.”
Raisins can also be troublesome. “The raisin is one of the worst foods because they’re so sticky and they actually adhere to teeth and stay there for an extended amount of time,” Dr. S says. “The sugar in that food is being consumed by the bacteria in our mouth during that time.”
Be Careful with Carbs
Carbohydrates break down into sugar. Foods such as crackers and chips tend to get stuck in our teeth and can stay there for long periods of time. Dr. Hayes says, “Many crackers are cookies with salt.”
Be an Example
Your kids are your world and you would do anything for them. Change their snacking habits but don’t forget to change them for yourself. Eat well, brush at least twice a day for two minutes, and floss.