Sugar and Toddler Dental Health
Around Halloween time, I got to thinking about an interesting recent encounter I had with a child and her parent in our office: Parents are constantly worried about their child’s dental health, and rightly so. This parent was telling me, “Doctor I just can’t seem to give my child anything other than juice in her sippy cup. She refuses to go to sleep without a bottle full of juice and I know this is ruining her teeth.” This 3 year old had several cavities that her dentist had rightly attributed to sucking on a sippy cup or bottle full of juice all day long.” The mother lamented, “She refuses to drink only water!”
I sized up the situation and thought of a good answer. I squatted down to the child’s eye level and said, “Juice, candy and other foods can have lots of sugar. When we eat or drink too much sugar, tiny little sugar bugs can grow on our teeth and give us cavities.” The little girl was astonished that she had been feeding these “sugar bugs” on her teeth with the juice from her sippy cup. Several weeks later, the (very happy) mom came to me and said, “She is now drinking much more water and doesn’t require going to bed with a bottle full of juice anymore!” The girl had become fascinated with keeping the “sugar bugs” away!
This may be a helpful tool for all you parents to keep your kids aware of how too much sugar can hurt their teeth. Tell them (in a non-threatening manner) that if they eat too much sugar and don’t brush their teeth, the “sugar bugs” will stop by and munch on all the sugar on their teeth. I have given this advice quite a bit in my office, and all the children really seem to grasp the concept — and none of them have been scared by the idea.
Hope this helps!
~Dr. Peter Sears
r. Peter Sears received his M.D. in 2002 after graduating with honors from Ross University. He completed his residency program in Family Practice from The University of Tennessee in 2005. Dr. Peter Sears is Board-Certified by The American Academy of Family Practitioners. Dr. Peter then practiced for two years with his fellow Dr. Sears Doctors in Southern California at Sears Pediatrics and Family Medicine. Since 2008, Dr. Peter has practiced Family Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. He sees all ages in his practice, from infants to geriatric patients. Dr. Sears’ primary passion in medicine is to promote well-being and health through the practice of preventive medicine at all ages along with using traditional and complementary treatments for curing of disease.
Dr. Peter is the co-author of two books. “Dr. Sears’ LEAN Kids” along with Drs. William Sears and Sean Foy which promotes the LEAN program (Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition) to help kids and adolescents lead happier, healthier lives. He is also co-author of “The Portable Pediatrician” along with Dr. William, Dr. Bob, Dr. Jim and Martha Sears, which is a comprehensive work on potential childhood illnesses, treatments and prevention to be published in 2010.