If you’re like us, sugar is the main ingredient in some of your favorite foods—cookies, pie, ICE CREAM. But did you know sugar is also hidden in unsuspected places like ketchup, fruit-flavored yogurt, spaghetti sauce, granola bars, and canned soup? It’s easy for parents to limit their child’s sugar intake when it comes to desserts and candy, but when sugar is hidden in seemingly healthy foods, planning snacks and meals can get tricky.
According to the American Heart Association, children between two and 18 should eat no more than 25 grams of sugar a day. Consuming more than this can harm your child’s oral and overall health.
In this blog, we will show you the impact sugar has on your child’s teeth, how to spot hidden sugars in foods and snacks, and healthier alternatives to sugary foods.
If you’ve noticed that your little one has more cavities than you think he should, or his gums are red and puffy, contact our children’s dentist today to schedule a regular dental cleaning and exam.
Sugar vs. Teeth
In our mouths are billions of bacteria. Good oral hygiene habits, eating healthy, and regular dental cleanings keep the bad bacteria from over-powering the healthy bacteria.
When a person (young or old) consumes sugar, the harmful bacteria in our mouths turn the sugar into acid that causes enamel to soften, then eats away at the enamel on our teeth. As the harmful bacteria spread and overpowers the healthy pH in saliva, our mouths become much more susceptible to cavities and gum disease.
Sugar vs. Body
Along with causing oral health problems, too much sugar is linked to childhood obesity and malnutrition. In turn, these an unhealthy consumption of sugar can lead to diabetes, a weakened immune system, and a lack of energy.
Sugar is also known to cause brain fog, which can make focusing in school more difficult for children.
Sugar in Disguise
Remember that line from Romeo and Juliet? “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. “
This same concept applies to sugar. No matter what we call it, sugar has the same effect.
To help you spot hidden sugars, check for these names on food labels:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Rice syrup
- Any other kind of syrup
- Agave nectar
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Evaporated can juice
- 100% fruit juice
- The suffix “-ose” (fructose, sucrose, dextrose, lactose, maltose, glucose)
Another way to spot hidden sugars is by checking the “added sugar” line on the food label.
Beginning a new food journey can be overwhelming. To lessen your stress and show you how doable lowering your child’s sugar intake is, we’ve compiled a list of delicious, healthy, low-sugar snacks that your child will love!
- Celery and cream cheese
- String cheese
- Guacamole and pita wedges
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Zucchini chips
- Parmesan fries
- Sweet potato chips
- Pepper nachos
Check out this blog to learn about portion sizes, how to prepare these snacks, and other snack ideas.
Other ways to limit your child’s sugar intake include:
- Limiting juice and soft drinks – choose water!
- Keeping candy out of the home
- Only making desserts on special occasions
Visit a Children’s Dentist
One of the most effective ways to combat tooth decay is to visit the dentist regularly. Your child’s first dental appointment should be scheduled as soon as the first tooth erupts. He or she should attend regular dental cleaning and exams every six months following the first appointment.
Schedule a dental cleaning and exam with Dr. Matt today by calling 913-685-9990.