3 Surprising Things That Are Harming Your Child's Teeth

As a parent, you know the importance of protecting your child's dental health. You probably teach them to brush and floss, and make sure they brush their teeth in the morning when they get up and at night before going to bed. And you make dental appointments for them so that the dentist can keep an eye on their teeth and make sure that their mouth is developing normally. But if your child is still getting cavities, you may need to look a little closer to find the cause of the problem. It's possible that something in your child's diet that you thought was healthy or harmless is contributing to those cavities. Take a look at some surprising things that could be harming your child's dental health.

Gummy Vitamins

Let's face it, some kids are picky eaters. If you're worried that your kids aren't getting the nutrients they need from their diet, supplementing with vitamins can seem like a good option. That way, they'll get the nutritional extras and you won't have to spend every meal trying to coax them to eat more vegetables. New gummy vitamins make getting these nutrients into your kids even easier. The sweet, fruit-flavored vitamins resemble gummy bears more than vitamins, and most kids take them with no problem.

However, dentists say that these vitamins may contribute to cavity development in children's teeth. The sugars in the gummies are tempting to the bacteria that cause cavities, and because the gummies are sticky, they're liable to sit on your children's teeth longer than other foods.

That doesn't mean that you have to throw away your gummy vitamins, but if you're going to give them to your kids, you need to be extra cautious about their oral health. Give the vitamins with a meal, not by themselves, and observe to make sure that your children brush their teeth thoroughly after eating. Don't give the vitamins right after your child has brushed their teeth – doing that that will leave gummy remnants sitting on your child's teeth for too long.


Another trick parents use to help kids get the nutrients they need is to give them the option to cover otherwise healthy foods in a kid-friendly condiment, like ketchup. This can seem like a reasonable compromise. It gets your child to eat foods they might not touch otherwise, and how bad could a tomato-based condiment really be for them?

The problem with ketchup is that it's high in acids and sugars. The combination is bad news for your child's enamel – the acids eat away at the enamel and weaken it, and the sugars feed bacteria that can cause decay. On top of all of this, the deep, dark color of ketchup can actually stain teeth, much like coffee or red wine.

You can protect your child's teeth by finding another dip or topping for foods that your child doesn't like plain. Cheese is topping that most kids enjoy, and while all dairy products are good for tooth and bone health, there's evidence to suggest that cheese in particular can actually help prevent cavities. If your child is going to eat ketchup, have them rinse their mouth out with water shortly after eating to remove as much of the acid and sugar as possible.

Bottled Water

There's no question that water is one of the healthiest beverages you can give your kids. Not only is it better for their teeth and health than sugar-filled sodas, it's also better than most juices, which also tend to be high in sugars. And bottled water is convenient for packing in lunchboxes or carrying to the playground. So what's the problem?

In a word, the answer is fluoride. Your tap water most likely has fluoride added to it, and that extra fluoride helps protect your child's teeth. Many brands of bottled water, however, either don't have fluoride added or don't have enough fluoride added to protect the teeth. Dentists believe that the trend towards bottled water is contributing to a rise in children's cavities.

This is an easy fix – if your tap water is fluoridated and safe to drink, just use that instead. Invest in a refillable water bottle or thermos, and not only will your child be getting water that's better for their teeth, you'll also be doing the environment a favor by not throwing away all of those disposable water bottles. If your tap water doesn't contain fluoride, or if it's unsafe to drink for some reason, ask your child's dentist about fluoride rinses that you can use to supplement your child's fluoride intake.

Maintaining your child's dental health now is an important factor in ensuring that their mouth continues to develop properly, and it can help them build healthy habits to maintain into adulthood. If your child has an unusual number of cavities, it's time to talk to their dentist about how you can improve their dental health going forward. For more information, contact a local dental clinic like Hoffman & Karl Dental Associates, PLLC