How Sweet Is the Road to Childhood Caries?

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It is a well-known fact that children should restrain from eating too much sugar as it may lead to cavities. For adults, healthy choices are at their own discretion. But when it comes to children, parents play the key role in keeping them away from harmful treats. In practice, however, it can be challenging to stay on track with the mission to implement the right dietary habits for children’s oral health.

In our recent DentaVox survey on Cavities in Children, we explored the practices of parents in regards to children’s intake of sugary food and drinks as one of the prime risk factors known to cause childhood tooth decay.

Sugar and starches are used by harmful bacteria in the mouth to produce acids, which can weaken and eventually destroy the tooth enamel. Over time, if untreated, this may lead to the formation of cavities. In view of this, if parents aim to prevent children’s caries, they should focus special efforts on restricting kids’ sugar consumption.

What did we learn from parents of children without caries in this aspect? Check the infographic and see how they approach kids’ consumption of sweets as compared to parents of children with cavities.

How sweet is the road to childhood caries - infographic
How sweet is the road to childhood caries - infographic

Download Infographic (.pdf)

If the child eats a lot of sweets throughout the day, this does not give a chance to the saliva to fix the damage of acids, formed by the bacteria feeding on sugar. Limiting the frequency of sugar intake is vital in that respect.

Despite of the big share of parents who admit that their child consumes sugary food several times a week, their percentage is almost twice as lower — 32%, amongst the non-cavities group compared to 59% for the children with cavities. 49% of respondents in the non-cavities group limit a child’s sugar intake to once a week or more rarely. Only 8% of parents apply the strictest measure and completely exclude sweets from the child’s diet.

Favourite to children, the sugar-sweetened beverages have high levels of sugar. Like food, these can significantly contribute to tooth decay and thus may lead to caries consequently.

Drinking low and no-sugar drinks is the practice for 45% of children without cavities. Although beverages with medium sugar are still consumed by more than half, their share is much smaller amongst children without cavities — 53% compared to 72% amongst children with cavities.

Adding extra sugar or sweet alternatives to child’s food only further promotes the habit of sugar intake, detrimental for caries-free healthy teeth. Nearly half of parents of children with no cavities avoid this bad practice.

White sugar remains the most popular sweetener for both groups of parents, closely followed by honey. Only a small share of parents make use of whole fruits as an alternative but their percentage is twice as high among parents of children without cavities.

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Curious to find out more about child caries prevention?

Stay tuned for more interesting insights from Cavities in Children Survey coming soon.

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