5 ways to protect your child’s teeth
Looking after your little one’s teeth sounds as if it should be easy. However in 2003 the “Children’s Dental Health in the United Kingdom” Report, found that 43% of 5 year olds and 57% of 8 year olds experienced obvious dental decay. So clearly some changes can be made!
Practicing conscientious dental hygiene may sound so simple, but sometimes life can get in the way. It is important to register your little one with a dentist at the first sign of a tooth appearing and a good idea to take them with you to your own check-ups to get them used to visiting. As the first tooth appears it is essential to start brushing, using a baby toothbrush and toothpaste. Here we have listed our five top nutrition tips to care for your child’s teeth.
1. Avoid giving sugary foods and drinks too often.
It is actually the frequency of sugar consumption rather than the amount, which is directly linked with tooth decay and dental erosion. The more sugar consumed, the more the risk to your child’s teeth. Soft drinks are thought to be particularly detrimental to teeth: studies have shown that the constant sipping of soft drinks increases the risk of developing dental caries.
2. Avoid offering dried fruits and fruit juice in-between meals.
Although fruit juice and dried fruits are a great source of vitamins and minerals, consuming them on their own can actually increase the risk of tooth erosion. The broken-down sugars in fruit juice make them more freely available to the surface of the teeth, and the natural stickiness of dried fruits can result in them lingering on the teeth for a long time. Offer these foods just once a day and always as part of a meal or snack.
3. Avoid brushing teeth straight after foods.
The acid and sugars present in sugary foods and soft drinks can cause tooth enamel to soften, and therefore brushing teeth straight away can actually do more harm than good. It is best to leave brushing for an hour or so after consumption of sugary foods or drinks.
4. Don’t be fooled by “tooth friendly” labels.
You may think that the hundreds of “tooth-kind”, “zero sugar” and “diet” varieties of drinks available should be safe for your little one’s teeth. Think again. Many of these drinks are high in acidity, which can lead to loss of tooth enamel and dental erosion. The only two tooth-friendly drinks are milk and water, so opt for these whenever possible.
5. Ditch the bottle.
Prolonged bottle use (after the age of one year) has been linked to tooth decay in children, so ensure that you introduce a free-flow cup or beaker early on during weaning so that your child is happy to have all drinks in this after one year. Additionally ensure you only ever offer milk and water from the bottle, and never add juice or other soft drinks as this can lead to poor dental health.