There are very few kids out there who don’t love sugar and sweet treats, and these are one of the largest challenges facing parents and kids dentists alike when it comes to child dental care. Too much sugar can lead to tooth decay, cavities and other problems, but it can also be tough to find snacks your kids like without involving sugar.
At Children’s Crossing Pediatric Dentistry, we’ve seen all of this before. Here are some basics on sugar and cavities, plus a potential alternative that may help.
Sugar and Cavity Basics
Sugar is one of the primary drivers of bacteria found in the mouth, which create acid that erodes tooth enamel. This same bacteria is responsible for causing plaque as well, which leads to cavities.
To help avoid too much sugar, be careful about the kinds of foods and drinks you buy. Check nutritional information for sugar content, and try to avoid high-sugar drinks like soda, fruit juice and sports drinks altogether. As a natural substitute, try to add more fruits and vegetables to the diet – fruits in particular are sweet and can be passed off as a tasty treat in some cases.
Xylitol – The Sugar Alternative
An alternative that’s rapidly growing in popularity is xylitol, a substance that’s familiar to sugar in taste and texture but lacks many of the health and dental downsides. Xylitol is found naturally in fruits and vegetables, with a genetic makeup that stops cavities rather than adding to them – it actually prevents acid from attacking the teeth, and can strengthen enamel and prevent tooth decay.
Xylitol also contributes directly to saliva production, one of the natural defenses the body has against cavities and a bad pH balance. Xylitol can be found in simple granules similar to sugar, and it’s easy to substitute in cooking. It can be found in numerous health food stores and natural grocers. Try substituting, and see if your kids even notice – many don’t.
For more on sugar and sugar substitutes, or to find out about any of our other children’s dentist services, contact the offices of Children’s Crossing Pediatric Dentistry today.