How Do Sugary Foods and Drinks Cause Cavities

Pediatric Dental Treatments in Grand Rapids, MI

Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of American children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thankfully, your child’s pediatric dentist at Kingma Pediatric Dentistry can remove dental plaque from their teeth and gums during their routine teeth cleaning. While sugar doesn’t directly cause dental caries (cavities), it does affect your child’s oral health. Continue reading to learn how sugary foods and drinks increase your child’s risk of cavities.

What causes tooth decay?

The bacteria living in your child’s mouth love sugar just as much as they do. While not all bacteria are bad, the kinds that lead to cavities consume the sugar left on your child’s teeth and gums. After eating sugar, the bacteria produce acids that erode natural tooth enamel and cause cavities in children. While sugar doesn’t directly cause cavities, it certainly plays a role in helping bad bacteria flourish. Starchy foods like bread or cereal can also contribute to tooth decay and gum disease.

Does this mean my child should avoid sugar entirely?

It’s important to understand that not all sugar is bad for you. In fact, fruits and vegetables contain natural sugars that your body needs to stay healthy. While it’s okay for your child to enjoy sugary drinks and foods as occasional treats, they shouldn’t be part of your child’s normal diet. Sticky foods can also increase your child’s risk for cavities because they stick to teeth and gums.

What foods and drinks are good for oral health?

Be sure to check the labels on foods and drinks before putting them in your grocery cart. Many of the things we assume to be healthy are actually bad for our teeth. For example, fruit juice is often sweetened with high amounts of sugar. Energy and sports drinks can also be loaded with sugar. If you are concerned about your child staying hydrated, we recommend sticking with water.

What if my child has a sweet tooth?

Your child can still eat their favorite sweets— just in moderation. Remember that as the adult, you have the final say for what foods and drinks are bought. If your child has a sweet tooth, it’ll also be more important than ever for them to maintain a healthy oral hygiene routine. Make sure that your child brushes their teeth twice a day and flosses once daily.

You should also take your child for their dental cleaning every 6 months. During your child’s appointment, a dental hygienist will be able to remove plaque and tartar from their teeth and gums. If your child has a tooth cavity, their dentist will recommend they get a filling.

What if my child has a cavity?

If your child’s dentist discovers tooth decay, they will recommend a cavity filling. During your child’s appointment, their dentist will drill out the decayed tooth matter and fill the hole with composite resin or amalgam. A dental filling will restore your child’s tooth after having a cavity so they can maintain good oral health. Whether you choose amalgam fillings or composite fillings will depend on your insurance, personal preference, and whether the tooth is visible when your child smiles or talks.

Dr. Kingma DDS and his team at Kingma Pediatric Dentistry are dedicated to helping your child maintain a beautiful healthy smile. To schedule an appointment with our Grand Rapids pediatric dentist, call our office at (616) 942-9840.