Foods That Give Kids Cavities

foods that contribute to kids getting cavities

As a parent, you want to give your child the best start in life. You make sure they eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and stay active. But did you know that some of the foods you may be giving your child could be causing cavities?

Cavities, also known as dental caries, are a common problem among children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of children aged 5-11 have at least one untreated cavity. And the main culprit? Sugary foods.

In this article, we’ll explore the top foods that give kids cavities and how you can help prevent them.

Why Are Sugary Foods Bad for Teeth?

Before we dive into the specific foods that can cause cavities, let’s first understand why sugar is bad for teeth.

When we eat sugary foods, the bacteria in our mouth feed on the sugar and produce acid. This acid can then attack the enamel, the protective outer layer of our teeth, and cause tooth decay. Over time, this can lead to cavities and other dental problems.

Children are particularly susceptible to cavities because their enamel is still developing and is not as strong as an adult’s. Additionally, children may not have the best oral hygiene habits, making them more vulnerable to tooth decay.

Sweet Indulgence: The Top Foods That Cause Cavities

While it’s no surprise that candy is on this list, it’s important to understand why. Candy is high in sugar and often sticky, making it the perfect combination for causing cavities. The sugar in candy can easily get stuck in between teeth and stay there for a long time, giving bacteria plenty of time to produce acid and attack the enamel.

Some of the worst offenders in the candy category include:

  • Gummy candies
  • Caramels
  • Lollipops
  • Taffy
  • Sour candies

Sweet Treats: Sugary Snacks That Can Harm Teeth

Snacks are a staple in most children’s diets, but some snacks can be harmful to their teeth. Many popular snacks are high in sugar and can stick to teeth, causing cavities. Some of the most common culprits include:

  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Chips
  • Granola bars
  • Fruit snacks

While these snacks may seem like a healthier option compared to candy, they can still contribute to tooth decay if consumed frequently.

Sugary Drinks: A Major Cause of Cavities

Sugary drinks are a major contributor to cavities in children. Not only do they contain high amounts of sugar, but they also often have high levels of acid, which can erode tooth enamel.

Some of the worst sugary drinks for teeth include:

  • Soda
  • Fruit juice
  • Sports drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Sweetened tea or coffee

It’s important to note that even “healthy” drinks like fruit juice can be harmful to teeth due to their high sugar content. Water is always the best option for keeping teeth healthy and hydrated.

How to Help Prevent Cavities in Children

While it may be impossible to completely eliminate sugary foods from your child’s diet, there are steps you can take to help prevent cavities.

Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks

The first step is to limit the amount of sugary foods and drinks your child consumes. This doesn’t mean they can never have a treat, but it’s important to set boundaries and make sure they are not overindulging.

Try to limit sugary snacks to once a day and sugary drinks to special occasions. Encourage your child to drink water instead of soda or juice, and offer healthier snack options like fruits and vegetables.

Encourage Good Oral Hygiene Habits

Good oral hygiene is crucial for preventing cavities. Make sure your child brushes their teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. You can also introduce flossing once your child’s teeth start touching.

It’s also important to schedule regular dental check-ups for your child. A pediatric dentist can catch any potential problems early on and provide preventative treatments like sealants to protect your child’s teeth.

Teach Your Child About the Importance of Oral Health

As your child gets older, it’s important to educate them about the importance of oral health. Explain to them why sugary foods and drinks can be harmful to their teeth and how they can prevent cavities by practicing good oral hygiene.

You can also involve your child in the process of choosing healthier snacks and drinks. Take them to the grocery store and let them pick out fruits and vegetables they want to try. This will not only make them more excited about eating healthy, but it will also teach them valuable lessons about making good food choices.


Cavities are a common problem among children, but they can be prevented. By limiting sugary foods and drinks, encouraging good oral hygiene habits, and educating your child about the importance of oral health, you can help keep their teeth healthy and cavity-free.

Remember, it’s okay to indulge in sweet treats every once in a while, but moderation is key. With a balanced diet and good oral hygiene, your child can have a healthy smile for years to come.