Tooth Erosion In Children
Tooth erosion is emerging as a common dental problem, especially among kids. A recent study found signs of tooth erosion in as much as 30% of the children checked, and most studies show the incidence of tooth erosion to be increasing. Children and adolescents are especially vulnerable to tooth erosion because their enamel hasn't fully matured.
What causes tooth erosion in kids?
Tooth erosion is caused by several different types of acidic or corrosive substances. The primary culprits are things like citrus juices and sodas. Citrus-flavored sodas such as Mountain Dew and 7-Up cause more damage than colas do, but none are great for the teeth. Acidic foods such as pickles, lemons, oranges, yogurt, and certain types of candies can also be tough on the teeth. Sour candies can be particularly hard on tooth enamel, so you should try to limit a child's consumption of these.
How to Prevent Tooth Erosion In Children
There are several steps parents can take to prevent tooth erosion in their kids:
1. Use a straw
Using a straw pushes the liquid towards the back of the mouth, limiting its contact with the teeth. Best of all, it's a fun guideline that kids will welcome.
2. Avoid grazing on candy or sipping on soda
One of the bigger issues with tooth erosion, says dental researcher Bennett Amaechi, is that "there are kids who walk around with a soda in their hands all the time." (Painter, 2008) It's not just the consumption of acidic beverages that is harmful, but the fact that a child’s teeth are being bathed in these substances. So don't fill a child's sippy cups with juice and let them carry it around. Drink these beverages promptly with food, which can offset some of the acidity.
3. Rinse after eating or drinking
Make a habit of having your children rinse with water after they eat a meal or are finished with a drink. Take a gulp of water, slosh it around in their mouth for 15 seconds, then spit. This will help get rid of acidic residue.
4. Wait before brushing
Acidic foods soften the enamel, so if you brush immediately afterwards, you can actually brush away more of the weakened enamel and make matters worse. Dentists recommend that you wait at least an hour to brush your teeth after consuming high-acidic foods or drinks.
5. Adjust the balance in what your child drinks
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that infants should not drink juice and that older kids should consume no more than 6 to 12 ounces of 100% juice each day. While we find it difficult to advocate that children consume less fruit products, try to adjust the balance so that they are getting more milk and fluoridated water, which are good for teeth. Cut down on artificial drinks such as Kool-aid or soda.
6. Beware of sugar-free candy
Just because it's sugar-free doesn't mean it's easy on your teeth. Sugar-free sweeteners often interact against the fruit flavorings in candy to create an acidic mix that weakens and yellows teeth. The worst offenders are sugar-free lollipops or hard candies that are sour or fruit flavored. The least destructive are sugar free mints of any kind, as well as butterscotch. Sugar-free gum isn't a problem. Even the fruit flavored kind stimulates saliva flow which offsets any acidic residue.