child teeth candy alternatives

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We’re likely not surprising many parents with the following basic fact: Candy is a risk to a child’s teeth and overall oral care, particularly when consumed frequently. It may taste great, but not only is it a risk to oral health, it’s also a concern for overall health as well.

At Children’s Crossing Pediatric Dentistry, preventive methods are a big part of our children’s dentist service approach. This includes informing and educating parents on the details of certain oral risks such as candy – this broad term breaks down into several specific types of candy that present various different risks. Let’s look at these risks, some alternatives to try with your kids, and how tooth brushing relates to all of this.

Candy Types and Child Oral Risks

Not all candy affects teeth in the exact same ways. A few types and their general effects on the mouth:

  • Hard candy: There are numerous kinds of hard candy out there, from gumballs to suckers and everything in between. Kids love them because they last a long time, but this is exactly what makes them risky – the teeth are exposed to huge quantities of sugar for long periods of time. Sugar leads to additional cavity risk due to providing bacteria with a food and energy source, which allows it to attack and destroy tooth enamel. In addition, hard candy is the greatest risk here for cracking teeth, which presents its own set of issues.
  • Sour candy: Even more risky from a cavity standpoint is sour candy, which has huge amounts of acid in it to create the sour taste. This acid eats away at enamel even faster than sugar.
  • Sticky candy: Sticky candy is like hard candy in that it exposes the teeth to sugar for long periods – in this case due to bits and pieces that stick in between the teeth and in gums. It’s hard to get out and gives bacteria more time to do their thing.

Alternative Options

A few alternatives to try with your kids to ween them off the worst candy types:

  • Dark chocolate: If your kids can’t get enough chocolate, at least try to steer them toward dark chocolate. It has less sugar than other types, and actually contains an element known as epicatechin – this is a flavonoid known to limit tooth decay and also help with cholesterol and blood health. It also contains chemicals that help limit bad breath in the mouth.
  • Xylitol sweetening: Usually found in gum, Xylitol sweetening is sugarless and helps stimulate helpful saliva production in the mouth, which washes away sugar and bacteria. But it still tastes sweet and your child will enjoy it.

Sugar and Brushing

Even if you’re using these low-sugar options, and particularly if you allow your kids the occasional high-sugar candy treat, promoting brushing twice a day becomes all the more important. This will ensure all sugar and bacteria are gone from the mouth and do not have time to harbor.

For more on the right candy practices to take with your kids for good oral health, or to learn about any of our kids dentist services, speak to the staff at Children’s Crossing Pediatric Dentistry today.