5 Ways Parents Can Counteract Sugar’s Effect on Kids’ Teeth

Dr. Rishita Jaju | Dr. Anh Dang Health & Wellness

February is a month where we often splurge on chocolates and candy. Valentine’s Day is especially celebrated with flowers and chocolate by children and adults in most countries all over the world! 

The good news is that choosing chocolate may be a better choice than chewy or sticky candies that can adhere to the teeth for a longer period of time and may also contain citric acid.

Tooth decay, often known as cavities or caries, is the number one chronic disease in children, and if left untreated, can lead to infections, pain and potential tooth loss. It can even cause problems with eating, speaking and learning.

February is National Children’s
Dental Health Month

The American Dental Association has designated each February as National Children’s Dental Health Month, designed to promote good oral health practices from an early age.

The observance began on February 3, 1941 as a one-day event, and grew in popularity until in 1981 it became a month-long program filled with health fairs, free dental screenings, museum exhibits, dental office tours, and classroom presentations by dentist and other dental professionals, along with posters and coloring and essay contests.

“During National Children’s Dental Health Month, and every month throughout the year, we want to stress the importance of taking care of your children’s teeth and oral health from the very beginning,” said Dr. Rishita Jaju, owner of Smile Wonders in Reston, Virginia and a board certified pediatric dentist. “This helps develop healthy habits young so your children will become healthy adults.” 

While we won’t say no to all sugars, there are things we can do to help prevent the negatives effects of sugar on young teeth.

1. Brush and Floss Regularly

Brush your child’s teeth or have them brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush. Wait 30-60 minutes after eating sugar or acidic foods before brushing though; brushing too soon can erode softened enamel. Always have your children brush before going to bed because as we sleep our mouths are drier, and there is a risk they won’t make enough saliva to counteract the bacteria caused by sugar left in the mouth. Clean between the teeth daily with regularly flossing. For babies, wipe your child’s gums after each meal.

2. Rinse the Mouth

When you eat, the pH level in your mouth becomes more acidic, which is never good for tooth enamel. The acid can dissolve the minerals that make up the tooth enamel and leave areas vulnerable for bacteria. After eating sugary foods, have your child rinse out or swish their mouth with plain water to counteract the plaque acids.

3. Reduce Snacking

Limit your child’s snacking on sugary foods to short periods of time, rather than snacking throughout the day. This helps reduce acid production in the mouth and lets the saliva levels rebalance in between meals.

4. Eat Healthy Foods

Feed your children healthy foods and limit sugary beverages served with meals and in-between. Vegetables and fruits are important, along with good sources of calcium like milk, yoghurt and broccoli.

5. Get Regular Dental Checkups and Cleanings

Bring your children to their pediatric dentist for regular check-ups and professional cleanings at least twice a year. This will help remove plaque and tartar that just can’t be reached with brushing and flossing.

At Smile Wonders, we prioritize preventive care by creating positive experiences for children and informative visits for parents. Come find out why kids love us and parents trust us for their infants, toddlers and children with various levels of needs and abilities. 

Dr. Rishita Jaju
& Dr. Anh Dang

Board Certified Pediatric Dentists

11790 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 105
Reston, VA 20191


Facebook | Instagram | Yelp | Youtube

Dr. Rishita Jaju was honored to be selected as a TedX speaker in November, 2023.