candy children
05 June 2017

Children love sweets and this can cause dental decay at an early age

Typically foods that can contribute to dental decay are those high in sugar, such as concentrated fruit snack bars, sweets and lollies, muesli bars and sugary soft drinks and juices. This is because the sugar feeds the destructive bacteria in children’s mouths, which then puts acid on your child’s teeth. Refined foods such as savoury, starchy crackers and chips can also have high carbohydrate (sugar) content, so it is important to check the food information panel on packaged foods to assist with determining foods with high carbohydrate or sugar content.

These types of foods are high risk for decay especially if eaten often and over long periods. While it is unrealistic to completely cut these foods out, the ADA has some tips to help minimise dental decay related to eating them. These include:

  • Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods, especially those rich in calcium and low in acids and sugars
  • Enjoy healthy snacks – cheese and fruit are ideal choices. Some foods assist with protecting teeth – milk and some cheeses are recognised as having protective qualities to help prevent dental decay
  • Feed your children a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, wholegrain cereals, lean meats and dairy products
  • Limit sugary snacks such as lollies, fruit bars, muesli bars, biscuits, dried fruit, cordials, juices and soft drinks to special occasions or events
  • Many healthy foods (such as fruit) contain high amounts of sugar. Starchy foods (such as bread, pasta and crackers) and milk products (including breast milk) consumed frequently can cause the growth of dental plaque, which is why you need to make sure your child’s teeth are cleaned morning and night

Importantly, a healthy diet must be complemented by good oral hygiene – brushing and flossing teeth and regular dental check ups. Daily flossing and brushing greatly reduce the risk of tooth decay. Adapted from the ADA dental health week brochure