When working with her young patients, the pediatric dentist and ADA spokesperson Dr. Mary Hayes teaches them this simple, but important, saying: “Sugar is fun to eat, but not good for your teeth!”
That’s because your child might love sweet treats, but the bacteria in his or her mouth loves them even more. “Sucrose (sugar) is the ‘food’ for the bacteria that cause tooth decay,” Dr. Hayes says. “Those bacteria produce acid that etches away the teeth.”
Limiting the amount of sugar your entire family eats is good for your teeth and the key to your overall health. Here are some dentist-recommended ways to start saying good-bye to unnecessary sugar throughout the day.
Know the Limits
When choosing a snack, keep an eye on added sugar (sweeteners like corn syrup or white sugar that are added to prepared foods). Naturally occurring sugars are less worrisome, as they are found in healthy choices like milk and fruit.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that people age 3 and older should consume no more than 12.5 tsp. each day of added sugar. (The same as one can of soda.) The World Health Organization states that adults should consume no more than 6 tsp. of added sugar, and children should have no more than 3 tsp.
When reading labels, you’ll see sugar is listed in grams. Since 1 tsp. of sugar equals 4 grams, aim to make sure the foods you are feeding your child fall between 12 to 50 grams a day.
The Truth About Juice
Because juice is high in sugar and calories, water and milk are always the best options for your little one. In fact, if your child is under 1 years old, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests completely removing juice from his or her diet.
Older children can occasionally drink juice, but if they do, there are two things to remember:
- Children ages 1-6 should have no more than 4-6 oz. of juice each day, according to pediatric guidelines. Children ages 7 to 18 should drink no more than 8-12 oz. (Many juice boxes are about 6 oz., so younger children should have no more than one per day, and older children no more than two.)
- Allowing your child to sip on juice throughout the day puts him or her at higher risk for tooth decay because you’re giving that cavity-causing bacteria more opportunities to eat and produce the acid that eats away at teeth. This can also happen with juice that is watered down. “Even though the volume of sugar has decreased, you’ve added the time that it takes to drink it,” says ADA spokesperson Dr. Jonathan Shenkin.
So what’s a parent to do? Limit the amount of juice your children drink, and always offer water or milk first. If your child does drink juice, serve the recommended, age-appropriate limits at mealtimes only. When your family is done eating, clean up any leftover juice instead of letting your children leave the table with it.
To read the entire article visit MouthHealthy.org.