Sugar Guidelines for Children’s Teeth Health - Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics

Sugar Guidelines for Children’s Teeth Health

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Child sitting in front of sugar cubes and soda

Do you know how much sugar your child is consuming during the day? You may think your child is eating healthy, when in reality they might be getting way more added sugars than you’d expect. Tooth decay is the most prevalent chronic disease plaguing adults and children today, and sugar is the reason. Find out what the sugar guidelines are for your child (and even for you) and how you can limit that sugar and avoid tooth decay!


How Much Sugar Does Your Child Eat?

Do you know how much sugar your child eats each day? Did you know that your child is probably eating way more sugar than they should, even if they eat pretty healthy? That is because so many foods have added sugars in them—even “healthy” foods—that your child is going over the sugar guidelines set for them. Juice is a major culprit of loading your child full of sugar. You should never feed an infant juice or soda in their bottles, as this leads to baby bottle tooth decay. Stick to water and milk and continue with both when a child is small.


Studies show the following facts when it comes to sugar intake and sugar guidelines for children and adults alike:

  • Adult men’s sugar guidelines are only up to 9 teaspoons of sugar a day, which is 36 grams of sugar or 150 calories total.
  • Women’s sugar limit should be no more than 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams or 100 calories total.
  • Infants should have little to no added sugars. Children between 2 and 18 should have less than 6 teaspoons of added sugars a day.
  • In real life, infants up to 3 years of age are already consuming about 12 grams of added sugars a day, which is twice what an adult should have.
  • Children between 4 and 8 get about 21 grams of added sugars each day. Teens between 14 and 18 consume just over 34 grams of added sugars a day.
  • The average American consumes at least 22 teaspoons of sugar each day, or about 355 calories.
  • Added sugar has no nutritional value, but it is one of the most highly-consumed substances in the American diet.
  • Tooth decay (unsurprisingly) is reported as the most chronic prevalent disease among children and adults.
  • 42% of children between 2 and 11 have cavities. 23% of those children have untreated cavities. Statistics are similar or worse for adults.


picture of an assortment of different sugary treats.

Help Your Child with Oral Health

Small children won’t know how to take care of their teeth unless you teach them. Learning how to use a toothbrush, (and especially to floss) can take several years. How your child’s oral health is doing will depend largely on how well you as a parent are taking care of their teeth those first few years. One of the most important steps in preventing cavities in the baby teeth is brushing daily with fluoride toothpaste. Choose an infant or child toothbrush that fits your child’s mouth and help them to brush at least morning and night. Use a rice-sized amount of toothpaste for a baby and a pea-sized amount for a child. Help them learn to brush for about 2 minutes, or play a song for them to brush to until the song ends.


If your child has all their baby teeth, you can use small flossers to help children floss. These are easier to use than winding floss around fingers. To prevent cavities from forming, establish sugar guidelines for your little one. You can establish those sugar guidelines by choosing healthy low-sugar or sugar-free snacks for them as well as drinks. Skip juice altogether and have them drink water to cut out some of the sugar. You can also get your child dental sealants at our office to protect their teeth even more.


Dental Visits for Children

Following sugar guidelines is important, but so is seeing the dentist for small children. Even infants need to be seeing the dentist as soon as they get their first tooth. Watch for that first tooth to pop through a baby’s gums. Once it is visible, make sure you are brushing that tooth (and all subsequent teeth) several times a day. Also clean your baby’s gums with a wet cloth after feedings. We have a free infant dental exam available to children under 18 months. This is a time to check that the baby’s teeth are coming in correctly and that you have good oral hygiene practices established when they are really small. This is especially beneficial for new parents who may not know what to do with their child’s health.


Children can benefit from seeing a pediatric dentist instead of a general dentist who mainly serves teens and adults. Children need services just as much as adults do, which is why we have digital x-rays, dental sealants, white fillings, laser dentistry, orthodontics and more for children. Laser dentistry is perhaps the most comfortable way to treat children for cavities and problems such as a lip or tongue-tie. There is little (if any) bleeding and very little pain (if any).


Three children of varying ages that are brushing their teeth

Limit Sugar to Reduce Cavities

Besides brushing and flossing your teeth, the best way to avoid cavities is to limit the amount of sugar you eat. The same goes for your child. A lot of what they eat is what you give them, especially when it comes to snacks. The more nutritious food you give them, the less they will start to crave sugar. If you help them with brushing and flossing, and follow sugar guidelines for them, you can expect their oral health to be in pretty great shape. To know how your child’s oral health is doing, schedule an appointment with Hardy Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics by calling (720) 887-6003!