Sugar Snack Facts:
- Frequent snacking on foods containing sugar increases a child's risk of getting cavities.
- Each time your child eats sugar, plaque in the mouth combines with sugar to produce acid.
- These acid attacks on the teeth over time can destroy the tooth structure.
Your child needs to eat a variety of foods: grains, milk and milk products, meat, vegetables, and fruits. Try to avoid establishing a "sweet tooth" by limiting foods high in sugar.
Tips for Good Snacking Habits:
- Cut down on high sugar snacks and offer your child snacks which are low in sugar such as vegetables, cheese, or pretzels. These do not promote tooth decay.
- Cut down the number of times a day your child eats sugar in food and snacks. With frequent snacks, the acidity of the mouth stays high. This exposes the tooth to acid for extended time periods. Frequency of snacks will increase the risk of getting cavities more than the amount eaten at one sitting.
- Avoid soft, sticky sweets that lodge on and between tooth surfaces, such as toffee, dried fruits, etc. Sticky foods are retained in the mouth longer and as a result, the acid which destroys the tooth is produced for a longer period of time. The consistency of the snacks increases the risk of getting cavities more than the amount eaten.
- Natural sugars (found in breast milk, fruit, milk, bananas) have the same effect on your child's teeth as refined sugars (found in soda pop, ice-cream, cake). Healthy foods should not be avoided, however, brushing afterwards is important in the prevention of tooth decay.
- Don't give your child sugar-rich foods that stay in the mouth and prolong the acid attack, such as gum, hard candies, lollipops, etc.
- If you do serve sweets, serve them with meals. Increased saliva flow during meals helps neutralize the effects of sugar.
- Brushing and flossing after snacks and meals is important in preventing cavities that can form from exposure to sugar.