The Canadian Dental Association cites Six Steps of Preventive Care to help maintain healthy teeth. Teeth cleaning at least twice a day and visiting your dental clinic for regular examinations are two of the essential steps. Not surprisingly, step number 3 is to: “Limit sugary snacks and drinks”.
At almost every day of the year, our stores are filled with sugary tempting treats, from favourite candies to iced donuts. For parents trying to instil a good dental health regime into their kids, this constant exposure to sugar can be difficult. So, how do you stay in control of sugary snacks for your children?
Less sugar, more fun
The secret is that whatever replaces sugary snacks in your children’s lives, it needs to be fun! So, instead of reaching for a snack at the end of a shopping trip, why no reach for something that’s fun and kinder to your kids’ teeth – and that doesn’t have to be edible. If the sugary snack usually keeps them happy in the back of the car home, swap it for a comic, a storybook, a small toy, that’ll (hopefully) last longer anyway.
Or, create a special post-shopping trip ‘party bag’, filled with craft items like stickers, crayons, chalks and mini play dough pots. They’ll keep the kids occupied for much longer than the time it takes to eat a chocolate bar. Plus, without the resulting sugar rush, you’re guaranteed to have a more relaxing time all round!
Sweet like chocolate?
If you can’t resist chocolate, then go for the lower sugar options. Take time to compare the sugar content on the packaging, but be prepared for a surprise or two! If you’re buying chocolate but want to stay in your dentist’s good books, look out for:
- Milk chocolate with 30g of sugar per 100g or less.
- Dark chocolate (70% cocoa) instead of milk chocolate. Still check the label as some brands will still have 40-50% sugar content.
Caution: the term “organic” does not necessarily mean a product is healthier or contains less sugar.
The hard facts
In March 2017, the Canadian Dental Association reported that “An estimated 2.26 million school-days are missed each year due to dental-related illness and tooth decay accounts for one-third of all day surgeries performed on children between the ages of 1 and 5”. These figures alone are a very good reason to start a less sugary lifestyle for your family.
Stop excesses becoming ‘the norm’
Try to start thinking long-term. If your family is still very young, you are in a great position to start preventative dental care early. A few simple steps taken now can make a huge difference to their future dental health.
- Start your kids on a ‘diet for life’ that is low in sugar.
- Help your children with twice-a-day brushing as soon as the first tooth appears.
- As soon as they are old enough, talk to your kids about sweet snacks and the risks to their teeth.
- Start regular dental examinations early. Remember, your dentist will help you educate your kids in oral health.
The Canadian Dental Association recommends professional dental check-ups for infants within 6 months of the appearance of the first tooth or by one year of age.
Sugary drinks tax
Last year, there was much debate over whether Canada should introduce a tax of sugary drinks. The reason is clearly stated in a report on sugary drinks produced by the University of Waterloo.
“Excess consumption of sugary drinks is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer, primarily through its association with weight gain, as well as increased risk of dental caries… Sugary drinks are projected to account for are projected to account for an additional 63,321 deaths and 2,185,549 DALYs in Canada, and an estimated $50,657,213,642 in direct health care costs over the following 25 years.” (13)
Such sugary drinks taxes already exist in France, Hungary, Mexico and Norway, and Britain has just introduced one. It is a move that could make a significant difference, according to TV chef Jamie Oliver:
“Do taxes on sugary drinks make a difference to the number of calories in the mix? Yes. Do they make a difference to the number of people dying from diet-related disease? Yes. Are they enough on their own? No.”
So, cutting back on sugary drinks will help, but lowering your children’s overall sugar consumption is the ultimate goal.
AMG: Dental care for all the family!
At AMG’s Dental Centre, we place special emphasis on child dental health. This is why we provide dedicated children’s dental monitoring programs, in addition to in addition to our extensive range of dental treatment for adults.
Don’t wait until after Easter to make the move to lowering sugar. Call us today on 519 873 1700 and book your child’s appointment.