The Effects of Caffeine, Soda and Chocolate on Your Kids' Teeth
As parents, it’s important to help our children build a strong foundation for oral health so their smile will last longer and remain beautiful. New parents, however, often underestimate the importance of their kids’ baby teeth. After all, they’re just going to fall out and make room for the permanent ones, right? It’s easy to think that these disposable teeth aren’t a big deal.
In reality, the opposite is true. Baby teeth serve a crucial role as placeholders for a child’s primary teeth. If an adult tooth is lost permanently, especially during childhood, it can lead to problems such as abnormal eruptions and misaligned teeth later. At Great Grins for KIDS - Portland, we make sure parents are properly informed when it comes to their kids’ oral health. Caffeine is one of the most commonly consumed substances among children today, and we’re here to educate you on the different ways it can prove harmful to their teeth if not kept to a minimum.
Too Much of A Good Thing
Too much of anything can, of course, be potentially bad for you but, when it comes to our oral health, some consumables’ effects are stronger and longer lasting than others. Caffeine exists in many food & drinks. While items like soda and chocolate can be acceptable in moderation, the biggest ongoing issue with kids is over-indulgence. We highly recommend limiting your child’s caffeine consumption to a bare minimum, especially during early childhood.
Tooth Enamel and How Caffeine Affects It
The enamel on human teeth is the hardest, most highly mineralized substance in the body. It is one of the four major tissues that make up our teeth (the other three being dentin, cementum, and dental pulp). Normally visible as the outermost layer of the crown, enamel is a semi-translucent coating responsible for protecting your teeth from decay, which is why it’s crucial to preserve it for as long as possible. Unfortunately, once the enamel is gone, your body does not make more of it. Because it does not contain living cells like your bones, for example, it cannot regenerate.
How to Take Care of Your Kids’ Enamel
While weakened enamel can be restored to some extent through various methods such as re-strengthening its mineral content (Brushing regularly with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, visiting us for regular professional cleanings, etc), it can never be rebuilt even with the best dental care. This fact too often goes unappreciated by people who do not worry about their enamel until after it starts eroding, which makes it all the more important to help your kids keep it in good shape.
Sugary foods & drinks, acidic fruits, and very hard consumables such as candies or ice cubes can all wear down or chip away your enamel. This is why parents should always advise children to suck on candy when they have it but never bite or chew it. Caffeinated beverages like sodas and energy drinks are particularly detrimental, as they usually contain high amounts of sugar. The bacteria in your mouth feeds on sugars among other basic carbohydrates we consume. As they feed, they produce acids which attack the enamel, which naturally leads to cavities.
Other Effects of Caffeine on Children
Because caffeine is a stimulant absorbed into every tissue of the body, it is easy to see how it becomes addictive. Exposing kids to it at an early age is more likely to start a cycle of addiction. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, meaning it causes more urine to be produced, which can lead to a loss of calcium that also weakens teeth. This increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
If you wish to learn more about the effects of caffeine on your kids’ beautiful smile or schedule an appointment to visit Great Grins for KIDS - Portland for cleaning, please call (971) 470-0054.