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Children's Oral Health Tips

Nutrition

Ongoing consumption of sugar-rich foods is one of the worst things that you can do to your teeth. By avoiding foods that ‘trigger’ decay producing acids, you reduce one of the causes of tooth decay. The list below is a helpful guide to the right kinds of snacks which promote better dental health:

EAT MORE OF THESE

EAT LESS OF THESE

DAIRY GROUP
Milk, cheese, plain yoghurt.

DAIRY GROUP
Chocolate milk, ice cream shakes, pudding, commercially prepared yoghurt.

FRUIT & VEGETABLES
All fresh fruits and vegetables and their unsweetened juices. (note-many juices are labelled "no added sugar" but are in fact rich in sugar).

FRUIT & VEGETABLES
Dried fruits, fruits packed in syrups, sweetened canned fruit sweetened juices, powdered drinks, jams, jelly, preserves, with added sugar.

BREAD AND CEREAL GROUP
Popcorn, crackers, toast

BREAD AND CEREAL GROUP
Biscuits, pies, cakes, mints, caramels, doughnuts.

MEAT & FISH
Nuts, eggs, peanut butter, lunchmeats, and tuna

OTHER
Chewing gum, candy, syrups, icing, sweet sauces, caramels, candy coated nuts.

OTHER
Sugarless gum, diet drinks, olives, pickles, coffee and tea with artificial sweeteners.

 

Diet and Dental Health

  • If children have poor diets, their teeth may not develop properly. Children need protein, vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and phosphorous, to build strong teeth and resist tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Parents should select meals and snacks for dental health as well as general health. Snacks, served no more than three times a day, should contribute to the overall nutrition and development of the child. Some healthy snacks are cheese, vegetables, yogurt, peanut butter and chocolate milk.
  • Sugars are essentially the same, whether natural or processed, to cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. All types of sugars and the foods that contain them can play a role in tooth decay.
  • A child who licks a piece of hard candy every few minutes to make it last longer or slowly sips a sugared drink while studying, is flirting with a higher risk of tooth decay. Such long-lasting snacks create an acid attack on teeth for the entire time they are in the mouth.
  • A food with sugar or starch is safer for teeth if it is eaten with a meal, not as a snack.
  • Asking your dentist to help assess your child’s diet will help you to assess if any diet changes may be required.

Tooth Brushing for Children

  • As soon as they can hold a brush, toddlers should be encouraged to help brush their teeth to encourage positive oral health habits early.
  • Parents should continue to monitor and assist brushing until they around 7-8 years of age (around the same time that they have learnt to tie their own shoelaces)
  • Select an appropriately sized toothbrush head and handle for children’s smaller hands and mouths. Larger handles will help the children to control the toothbrush more effectively, whilst smaller heads fit into their smaller mouths more comfortably.The best times to brush are after breakfast and before bed.
  • When all sides of a tooth cannot be cleaned by brushing alone, it is time to begin flossing your child’s teeth.
Please note that some information has been adapted from the AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY 2013 ‘Fast Facts’ factsheet

 

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