Are your young children caught in the sip and snack all day habit? Pediatric Dentist Dr. Jared Evans describes how sipping on sugary drinks and sweet snacks can leave your child's smile anything but sweet.
Q: What is the "Sip and Snack all Day Syndrome" and why is snacking all day harmful to a child's teeth?
Dr. Evans: It is not the amount of sugar that is necessarily bad for the teeth, but the amount of time the teeth are exposed to those sugars can be very dangerous. The "sugar" time is proportional to the amount of time acid is being produced in the mouth. These acids are what cause enamel or mineral loss and weakening of the teeth. Children who snack at will and all day will be at a very high risk for dental decay; especially if teeth are not being brushed regularly as well.
Q: What are some of the most damaging snacks that cling to a child's teeth?
Dr. Evans: The most damaging snacks will be the really sticky and sugary types. For example: fruit snacks, crackers, juices and soda, raisins, and candies.
Q: It's typical to expect sweets to be damaging to teeth- but what is wrong with crackers or chips?
Dr. Evans: Any food that has carbohydrates will result in acid exposure to the teeth. Crackers and chips are high-carb foods that stick to the teeth and really get stuck on the chewing surfaces of the back molar teeth.
Q: How can families overcome the "Sip and Snack All Day Syndrome?"
Dr. Evans: Families can avoid the "sip-and-snack all-day syndrome" by having a well balanced diet with an emphasis on snacks that are low in carbohydrates. Cheese, yogurt, deli-meats, vegetables, and water are very good for the teeth, especially if they are used for snacks in-between meals. Also, limit the amount of time a child is allowed to have a snack. Have it and be done. Kids tend to eat much slower to pass the time if they are eating in front of a television or in an automobile. They should eat at an appropriate time and place where they can eat quickly and be done. Visiting the pediatric dentist for oral hygiene instructions, fluoride therapy, and anticipatory guidance is very beneficial to both child and caregiver.
Q: What do you recommend children do to protect their teeth after snacking?
Dr. Evans: It would be great for a child to rinse with water after snacking. Brushing your teeth after eating would be ideal, but impractical at times. We should all be brushing and flossing at least after breakfast and before bedtime. Any additional tooth brushing is definitely a bonus but not as necessary. Visiting the pediatric dentist every six-months is vital to prevent small problems from becoming big problems due to neglect. Dental decay is the most common disease of childhood and is prevalent in over half of children under the age of eight.
Q: Are there any websites that you would recommend for parents that would like to learn more about protecting their child's teeth?