Q. How bad are sugary sweets for children’s teeth?
A. Sweets — whether they’re big or small, hard-boiled or chewy — are a weak spot for so many of us. As children we were always rewarded with sweets for being well-behaved, completing chores and as birthday treats. Throughout our lives, we have been led to believe that sugary sweets are the only cause of tooth decay and cavities. But this isn’t the case because, while sweets have a lot of refined sugar in them, other factors do come into play.
Some of us continue that tradition with our own children, but it’s important to remember that the risks we were brought up believing still exist, and more! For instance, eating hard-boiled or chewy sweets, lollipops and mints can cause different kinds of damage to teeth. Chewing too vigorously or biting with too much force can chip, crack and even break teeth. How frequently your child eats sweets also has an impact. If they’re eating sweets quite regularly then obviously, it leads to tooth decay faster.
Tooth decay is caused when there are substrates and micro-organisms present in the mouth. Substrates are quite simply carbohydrates found in fruits, bread, pasta, cookies, juices and sweets, etc. Bacteria doesn’t know the difference between refined sugars or natural sugars, such as lactose, glucose or fructose.
Therefore, when any form of sugar is present in the mouth, the bacteria that work on these sugars produce acids. This leads to the tooth structures breaking down and causing cavities. So it’s a good idea to get children rinse their mouth after eating sticky, sugary sweets.