Kids and Lollies: How Much Candy Can I Give To My Child
Children love their lollies. They are a staple at children’s parties, a go-to reward for many parents and teachers, and are part of the social environment our kids grow up in. To expect our children to not have candy at all is unrealistic, but we also know how unhealthy such treats can be – especially if eaten too often!
According to a study done by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022), around 2 in 5 children start to experience tooth decay before even reaching the age of 10. Even when filled, these cavities can continue to affect the teeth for the rest of their lives, especially if the cause of the initial cavities is not dealt with.
Is there such a thing as “healthy candy”? Are all lollies equally bad for our teeth? Are there options that are better for our teeth? How can we protect our teeth? Let’s break down what we need to know when it comes to kids, teeth, and those sweet treats that are too tempting to ignore.
Is There Such a Thing as Healthy Candy for Kids?
No. When it comes to their teeth, the very best kind of treat is no treat at all. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria converting sugars into acid, and the refined sugars in candy are particularly dangerous. Candy that is made from sugar alternatives are no better, unfortunately. They, too, are high in acid, which is the final cause of tooth decay.
Are There Other Options Better Than Candy?
While some people recommend kids avoid candy altogether, this does not mean the alternatives do not cause tooth decay. Many fruit options are high in both citric acid and natural sugars, which are just as attractive to the bacteria in our mouth. Fruit like oranges are also notorious for getting stuck between our teeth, leaving a source of food for the bacteria that might last hours.
What Can I Do To Protect My Kid’s Teeth?
Avoid Sticky Candy
Sticky and chewy treats like toffee are the worst option for children’s teeth. They tend to stick to the teeth in hard-to-reach places, and the common methods to remove them are not as effective. On the other hand, chocolate may be a slightly better alternative as it easily melts away so is less likely to stay stuck on the teeth.
Eat All the Treats At Once
Grazing on candy throughout the day is possibly the worst option when it comes to your child’s oral hygiene. Continued eating, even in small amounts, means their teeth never have time to recover or allow the natural self-cleaning of the mouth to remove remaining sugar. It is better for a child’s teeth to have a handful of lollies in one snack than it is to have a treat every couple of hours.
Eating the Treat Straight Away After a Meal
On our blogs we often talk about reducing the frequency that children eat. A good time to give a sweet treat is straight away after one of their meals. That way it’s still counted as one ‘eating episode’, and since their tummies are already full of food they are less likely to eat large quantities of the sugary treat to feel satisfied. A child who has a piece of chocolate every day straight away after lunch is less likely to get tooth decay compared to a child who constantly snacks on apples and fruit non stop throughout the day.
Wash It All Down With Water
After eating, a good glass of water to wash away sugars is a great option. Drinking water also stimulates production of saliva, which naturally cleans and protects teeth. Australian tap water is fluoridated, giving you a healthy option that offers more to protect your child’s teeth from decay.
Drinking soft drinks or juice is not the same as drinking water. In fact, it would cause more damage than not drinking at all. Even sugar-free drinks are bad for your teeth. If it is a special occasion and soft drinks are hard to avoid every once in a while should be fine. However, avoid having these drinks at home. If they do have soft drinks on the odd occasion, encouraging them to have a drink of water afterwards will help rinse the acid away.
Maintain Oral Hygiene Practices
Most importantly, don’t let events that include those naughty snacks get in the way of good oral hygiene. While your child may be tired coming home from the big birthday party, it’s on nights like this that it is most important to have that before-bed brushing. Sugars that remain in the mouth overnight do more harm than they could ever do during the party itself. Teach your kids that, no matter the circumstances, brushing their teeth before and after bed is the most important thing they can do to have a healthy mouth.
Another important aspect of maintaining oral hygiene is enduring your child seeing a dentist on a regular basis. After the age of two, children should see a dentist at least twice a year. Choose a dentist friendly with kids, and have no drill dentistry options if there is a need for treatment. We would rather see your child before there is anything to treat, and only regular visits and good daily routines can help make that happen.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
Candy can be very bad for your teeth, and it is important to consider all the things you can do to protect your children from its adverse effects. However, treats can also negatively affect their health in other ways. Talk to your doctor about what your children eat, and discuss what would be a responsible amount of sugar they recommend.
Whilst the best amount of sugary treats for a child’s oral health is none, that is unlikely to happen in this day and age. It is possible for them to enjoy the odd sugary treat here and there without damaging their teeth and we hope this blog helps you understand how you can achieve that. Book an appointment for your child’s next appointment with us and we can help you further understand the healthiest options for their teeth.