Break Your Child's Soda Habit Now To Avoid Lifelong Dental Problems
As a parent, you probably already know that soda is an unhealthy choice for your child. However, once your child gets into the habit of drinking soda regularly, that habit can be tough to break. Many parents allow their children to continue drinking soda simply because they're not sure how to wean them off it is successfully. As a result, many of those children suffer from lifelong dental problems such as tooth decay and weak tooth enamel.
If your child reaches for soda on a daily basis, it's essential that you break this habit now. Waiting will only make the habit harder to break and will give dental problems more time to set in. Don't feel guilty that your child has developed this habit; you're not alone. Studies have indicated that at least one in four school children consume at least four servings of soda a day! What's important now is that you act quickly to make your child one of the four out of five who don't drink that much soda.
Why Soda is So Bad For Teeth
The sugar in soda is notoriously bad for teeth. It feeds oral bacteria, which produce acids that cause tooth decay. The effects of sugar are even worse when your child drinks soda between meals, since the sugars may sit on the teeth for hours before your child eats something else or brushes his or her teeth again.
There is a second, lesser-known reason why soda is so bad for teeth, and it has to do with the soda's acidic qualities. The acid in soda helps it maintain its fizz, but it's also terrible for teeth. It can erode tooth enamel, especially on the front teeth, since they come into direct contact with the soda as your child drinks.
Some parents mistakenly think it's okay for their children to drink soda when they are young, since they still their baby teeth will fall out anyways. However, this is not the case. Your child's baby teeth play an important role in guiding the adult teeth into place as they erupt, and it is essential that you keep them in good health.
How to Break the Soda Habit
A good way to break the soda habit is to slowly decrease your child's intake over time. Like any other habit, this one is hard to quit cold turkey. However, if you wean your child off of soda slowly, he or she will have an easier time adapting to the change. Start by identifying how often your child drinks soda right now. Perhaps he or she drinks one soda with each meal, or maybe it's just one soda a day.
Once you know how often your child drinks soda, it's time to scale back. For example, if your child drinks three sodas per day, start by cutting out one of those sodas. When your child gets used to this change, eliminate an additional soda, followed by elimination of the final soda after several weeks. Replace the sodas with healthier choices, such as milk and water. Remember that even diet soda is not a healthy choice, since it still contains the acids that erode tooth enamel.
Your child may be reluctant to reduce his or her soda intake. To help get him or her on board, spend time time discussing the dangerous of soda. You can also ask your family dentist to reiterate to your child how bad soda is for the teeth. Often, hearing advice like this from someone other than a parent will make a child more willing to follow it.
Another way to motivate your child to quit drinking soda is to offer him or her some type of reward when soda is no longer a part of the daily routine. Perhaps you could take your son or daughter to the new skate park or to see a movie in the theater to celebrate the accomplishment.
It's never too late to quit soda and prevent future dental problems. Whether your soda-sipping child is three or thirteen, make today the day you start weaning him or her away from this dangerous beverage.