Hidden sugars. Most of us as parents know that sugars damage the teeth and cause caries, but we still don’t know much about hidden sugars that are lurking in unexpected foods and places that constantly come in contact with children’s teeth.
Do we do anything about it? Do we ensure our children rinse their teeth after every meal or are even brushing properly?
Apart from the obvious sugars in chocolates and health drinks, there are traces of sugars getting into your child’s mouth, sticking to their teeth and causing irreversible damage. Below are some of the foods through which these sugars sneak into their mouth,
Fruit juices are healthy. Period. They contain plenty of vitamins and minerals, they contain fibre but they also contain plenty of sugar. When comparing their health quotient and sugar, the former always trumps. But as parents we cannot ignore what that sugar is doing to our children’s teeth. Besides, juices have enamel softening acids which stick and erode teeth.
What can you do?
Juices stick to a larger surface area of teeth when they come in contact with them, and that’s why children must drink them with a straw. Paper straws are easily available and this is good for the environment too. After drinking the juice, have your children rinse their mouth or brush their teeth. Wait for atleast 45 minutes to do this, to ensure the softening of the acids wears out.
Chewable treats are a big hit with kids. These are popsicles, gum sticks and lollipops that often linger in their mouth for hours. When consumed occasionally it is alright, but imagine the damage to teeth when they linger in the mouth all the time? Gum candies and anything chewable by their very nature, stick to teeth, allowing bacteria to grow and causing decay.
What you can do?
Chewable candies are again not good all the time. It is better for children to get their sweet fix from fruits and juices rather than candies and chocolates. After consuming anything, brushing and rinsing teeth is an absolute must.
SAUCES, CANNED ITEMS
Almost all kinds of sauces and canned products contain sugar, even trace amounts. This isn’t natural but may have been artificially added to enhance the taste. The next time you visit the grocery store and make a beeline for the processed food and pre-packaged section, make it a point to read the labels carefully. Even though kids have these occasionally on the side, this sugar isn’t good when left in the mouth.
What you can do?
Prepare food from scratch for kids as much as possible. Although pre-packaged foods are easier to rustle up, it also means that you are giving kids something that you don’t know much about. Sauces can be prepared from scratch and whenever possible involve kids in preparing meals. There is no better way to teach them about food, especially sugars and other nutrients than when cooking with them.
Dental hygiene is definitely considered important, but a majority of us slacken when it comes to doing it properly and consistently for our children. Holidays, trips and occasions is when the teeth are much exposed, yet there isn’t time to look at them properly. If you haven’t set out to see your child’s paediatric dentist yet, don’t wait anymore. The earlier any caries gets detected, the better for us at Small Bites to intervene.