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How Do Sugary Drinks Affect my Toddler’s Teeth?


While it is true that baby teeth do eventually fall out, tooth decay is a dental health issue that can cause issues and prove itself to be problematic. So, what causes tooth decay in our toddlers and young children? One of the most obvious causes are the drinks that we give them, such as soda or juice. Our pediatric dentist, Dr. Tim Loughran, is here to share how sugar contributes to tooth decay, how to prevent tooth decay from sugary drinks, and more. 


How Does Sugar Contribute to Tooth Decay?

Nowadays, many drinks that are marketed to consumers as “healthy” are lining the shelves of our supermarkets. But, in reality, these drinks are full of sugar. However, while sugar is a part of the issue where tooth decay is concerned, a big factor that contributes to the damage of the enamel is acid. 


The acid that contributes to the breakdown of tooth enamel is formed when a child’s mouth begins to use sugar as a source of food to turn into energy. Bacteria in the mouth is what starts the breakdown of the food and releases acids. These acids then, in turn, start to harm the enamel and even remove minerals from the teeth. What happens next is no fun- tooth decay, cavities, toothaches, rot, and more!


How Can I Help Prevent My Toddler from Experiencing Tooth Decay?

One of the most common answers that you will get from a pediatric dentist is to avoid giving your toddler sugary drinks. This does not mean that an occasional soda or juice is bad, but it is best to choose options that are low in sugar for everyday consumption. 


Water is a highly recommended option because it helps to wash away bacteria in the mouth. And, in addition, water also hydrates the tongue, assisting in the production of saliva. If your toddler does not like plain water, try adding fruit! This is a simple, healthy way to give water a delicious flavor while avoiding the harmful sugars found in soda or juice.


Another beverage with great health benefits for children is milk. Milk is rich in calcium and vitamin D, which contribute to building healthier, stronger bones and teeth. However, it is important to try and avoid milk with added sugars and flavors such as chocolate milk. 


What Should I Do After My Toddler Has Consumed A Sugary Beverage?

Brushing your child’s teeth after they drink soda or juice is a great step to take in order to prevent harmful tooth decay. Brushing their teeth helps to get rid of the bacteria that leads to the acids that break down the enamel. However, it is important that certain steps are followed when brushing teeth after drinking a sugary beverage. It is important to wait 30-60 minutes after consumption to brush your teeth because of the sensitive state that teeth are in immediately after sugar is consumed. Instead of brushing immediately after and spreading bacteria around, rinse your mouth out with water. Then, brush your teeth once the 30-60 minutes are over. 


Tips from a Pediatric Dentist for Avoiding Tooth Decay for Your Toddler

There are other ways to prevent sugary drink-related tooth decay in your toddler. Encouraging good dental hygiene practices or avoiding sugary drinks are the top ways, but there are other options. 

  • Moderation: A soda or juice every once in a while is ok, but no more than one sugary beverage per day should be consumed
  • Dilution: Dilute juice drinks with water to reduce the amount of sugar
  • Straws: Have your toddler drink through a straw. This reduces the amount of contact that sugars and acids will have with the teeth.
  • Bedtime: Avoid giving soda or juice to your toddler before bedtime.
  • Dental Cleanings: Schedule regular appointments with your child’s pediatric dentist 


Tim Loughran Dentistry

Tim Loughran Dentistry in Herrin, Illinois loves our pediatric patients. Schedule your child’s appointment today, or contact us with questions or for more information.

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