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How do I protect my kids from tooth decay?

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07-01-2022

How can I prevent tooth decay in my child?

Contrary to popular belief, it is ok for your kids to eat sweets and chocolate. Shocker! What matters is the where, when and how.

First rule of thumb is that if your kiddo wants something sugary, try and avoid things that will stick to their teeth, such as sticky sweets or toffee. You want to give them something that will not get stuck in their tiny little tooth fissures (the bumpy bits on the top of your teeth). It makes them hard to clean then, and if a sweet gets stuck, it may cause the tooth to start decaying. Chocolate is actually the better choice as it is easily washed away by saliva.

Second rule is don’t let them continually snack over a matter of hours. It’s usually not what they’re eating, but the frequency. So, eating an entire chocolate bar in one go is ok. Eating it over an hour or two will cause problems. Basically, every time you eat anything, it neutralises all the good stuff that’s in your mouth, protecting your teeth. By eating something slowly over an hour or two, you’re constantly attacking your teeth, and the good stuff never gets the chance to get nice and comfy around your teeth again. So by eating all in one go, you only attack your teeth once, instead of 4, 5 6 times over the course of an hour.

Obviously decay takes time to start. But doing the above on a regular basis will eventually cause holes to start appearing in the teeth.

This also goes for drinks with sugar in them. Constantly sipping a drink will keep the acids in that drink on your teeth for a long period of time. It can take up to 30 minutes for your mouth to return to normal after eating anything, so bear that in mind if your child is snacking.  It’s best to stick to water or milk between meal times if you can.

With all that in mind, here are some healthy snack ideas which your kiddos teeth with like:

Cheese

Carrot sticks

Cucumber sticks

Celery

Oatcakes with sugar free peanut butter

Plain nuts

Fresh fruit such as apples, bananas. Try and avoid dried fruit as this is super high in sugar and a lot of dried items are sticky too.

 

It is also worth remembering that some processed baby foods contain quite a lot of sugar. Try checking the list of ingredients: the higher up the list sugar is, the more there is in the product. Generally anything ending in ‘ose’ is a sugar, for example: fructose, glucose, lactose or sucrose.

Finally, thorough brushing with a fluoride toothpaste last thing at night, and at least one other time during the day, will help to prevent tooth decay. Everyone should be brushing first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I always say, brush in the morning to keep your friends and brush at night to keep your teeth!

 

Trying to teach kids good eating habits when they are young, will ensure a healthy attitude to food and health for a lifetime. Please click this link for a free PDF activity to do with your child regarding tooth health and healthy eating. Click here for free download

 

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