How Much Sugar Is Too Much For Kids?

How can you avoid tooth decay to keep your children’s teeth healthy?

Often children’s oral health can be overlooked as sugar is an ‘invisible’ threat of sorts that can easily go undetected. Sugar camouflages itself in many of the foods and drinks we consume daily and has the same effect on our body and our teeth.

A diet that is high in sugar is known to be a major reason for tooth decay in children. Different types of bacteria live in the mouth, and some of these specifically feed off sugar, in turn producing acids that dissolve the protective surface of our teeth, known as the tooth enamel.

Although encouraging your children to brush teeth twice daily is a good oral hygiene practice and does help with keeping their teeth healthy, it can only do so much to negate the effects of high sugar intake in their diet. Our bodies naturally produce saliva that constantly works as a buffer to the acids and damage caused by sugar through a process known as remineralisation. However, if your child consumes a lot of sugary drinks and food constantly, the effects of high sugar intake will not allow the opportunity for the enamel on their teeth to remineralise effectively.

If they consume fizzy drinks and sodas all the time instead of water (which helps in the production of saliva), they are unconsciously helping the bacteria that feeds off the sugars and damages their teeth.

Watch Dr Lucy Galletly talk about Paediatric Dentistry in the video below.

How much sugar is too much?

In Australia there are no set metrics for sugar, although we do have guides in place to instruct on balanced healthy eating. The World Health Organization recommends consuming 50g of sugar per day, or 10% of your daily energy intake requirement for optimal health. But this recommended amount of sugar is for the average adult.

It’s important to pay attention to your child’s diet and encourage them from an early age to follow healthy eating habits. Some foods such as baked goods like cake or biscuits, breakfast cereals, tomato sauces, desserts and ice cream etc., contain very high amounts of sugar. Processed and packaged foods and drinks also disguise the high levels of sugar they contain, so it is important to always read the labels to spot ‘no added sugar’ or ‘low sugar’ food items that have a good health rating on them.

Cutting down on sugar in your family’s diet does not mean that you need to limit the amount of food your children consume. They are in a high growth stage of life which means providing them a balanced diet and encouraging them to follow good food habits is key. It’s certainly a difficult task to provide an exact measurement for children since their daily energy intake differs depending on factors such as age and sex.

For a rough estimation of the energy intake amounts required for children, click on the link below.

Recommended Daily Energy Intake for Children Guidelines

How to care for your children’s teeth?

Source: Australian Dental Association

Consuming sugar leads to oral bacteria producing acids that disintegrates the tooth’s enamel which causes cavities. A weakened tooth enamel, as we discussed before, can be restored through remineralisation. However, if the tooth enamel has dissolved and has not had the chance to remineralise properly and adequately, it could lead to a more severe outcome known as a cavity or a hole in the tooth which is more permanent. This will lead to needing a dentist having to treat the decaying tooth or cavity.

A small to medium cavity usually would not require you to go through an extensive or intrusive treatment procedure. It will almost always be treatable using a standard dental filling. However, if the damage to the tooth is larger, and the decay has penetrated the pulp at the root of the tooth, the dentist will recommend having a root canal treatment done to save the tooth.

 We will always try our very best to save an infected or decaying tooth, but if a tooth is not salvageable and must be removed, we will perform an extraction as a last resort. This is not optimal in children, as the baby teeth or primary teeth play a vital role in keeping their teeth in the right places for when adult teeth begin to form. Losing a tooth as a child during the early ages can cause issues with spacing in their teeth which could lead to needing orthodontic treatment as they get older.

It’s important to monitor your child’s teeth and oral health from an early age and schedule regular dental check ups with your dentist. This is because they will then be able to monitor your child’s teeth from the very start and catch any signs of decay early on. This will help greatly to avoid invasive treatment procedures like root canals. As soon as you suspect a dental issue, it’s crucial that you seek the advice of your dentist.

Ideally, it would be better if you could introduce your children to the dentist before any dental issues arise. This helps to create a more positive relationship between us dentists and your children as we will be able to perform a gentle, non-invasive examination of their teeth and spend time with them to avoid any dental anxiety or nervousness around visiting the dentist.

Free Children’s Dental for Eligible Families Via Medicare

Paediatric Dentistry at Dental on Beams

Visit our clinic for all aspects of children’s dentistry. Our dentists are experienced and are highly trained to make sure kids of all ages are comfortable and relaxed when they visit us. Early intervention is key to happy smiles!

Book your children in for routine check ups with the dentists and make sure to ask our expert staff any questions you might have regarding your child’s or your oral health!

For more information on how to help with dental anxiety, how sugar affects your child’s teeth and how to care for and maintain your infant’s, child’s and your oral hygiene and teeth, click on the link below to read the full article.

Click here to Read the Full Article


Watch Dr. Daphne talk about Paediatric Dentistry in the video below.

Get in touch with our friendly team at Dental on Beams for all your Paediatric Dental queries and issues or book an appointment online.