The American Heart Associating recently released new, easier to follow guidelines to help Americans limit their sugar intake. American citizens have a serious sugar addiction. In fact, the average American eats over 130 pounds of sugar each year. Children eat an average of 20 teaspoons (80 grams) of sugar daily! Now, the new guidelines state children ages 2-18 should consume no more than 25 grams – or 6 teaspoons – daily. Children under two should not have any added sugar in their diet.
Our office is constantly talking to patients and their parents about what sugar can do to teeth. Unfortunately, sometimes we are too late and children come in for their first visit (at 1 to 2 years old) with multiple cavities. A child’s first dentist visit should be before their first birthday, or when the first tooth starts to come in. Tooth decay is the leading childhood illness.
Our teeth are a reflection of our overall health. It’s difficult to examine you blood vessels or liver, but you can look in the mirror and examine your teeth! If your teeth aren’t healthy, there’s a good chance the rest of your body is unhealthy, too. Filling and dental sealants are a short-term fix for a larger issue. Sure they take care of the problem, but a better solution is to examine diet and make healthier choices.
It’s been known for years that “low-fat” diets aren’t the healthiest. Instead, recent studies have shown that a “low-sugar” diet is more beneficial and critical for overall health. Low-fat diets were once very popular. Manufacturers removed fat from their food, but added sugar and salt to make it taste better. These moves caused rates of obesity, type II diabetes, and heart disease to grow exponentially, especially in children.
The added sugar sneaks into our diet through processed foods and sugary drinks. Be careful with feeding your children sugary cereals and breakfast bars. Check the sugar content of yogurt or other dairy products. Avoid packing cookies, chocolate milk, fruit juices, and even ketchup (which contains a surprising amount of sugar) in your child’s lunch. Organic, “no sugar added” apple juice contains a huge amount of natural sugar. For example, 12 ounces of apple juice has more added sugar than almost every 12 ounce soft drink. Sodas contain around 40 grams (ten teaspoons) of sugar for every 12 ounces. By drinking one soft drink, your child is already over their sugar limit for the day. Water is your best friend for your dental and overall health.