Tooth decay (dental caries) is a diet-related disease. Sugars in the food and drinks you consume are broken down by germs (bacteria) in the plaque that produce acids. The acid attacks the outer layer of the tooth (enamel) causing it to soften resulting in tooth decay.
These attacks can last for up to 20 minutes after sugary food and drinks are consumed until your saliva can start to remineralise the enamel and allow it to harden up again.
A few tips to help maintain healthy teeth:
• Reduce the frequency of sticky, sweet and acidic foods exposed to teeth • Avoid grazing and try to consume it at mealtimes rather than between meals • Choose fresh fruit over dried fruit, as dried fruit will leave a sticky residue on your teeth and can contribute to tooth decay • Drink fluoridated tap water and plain milk instead of soda water, soft drinks, cordial or juice. • Swish plain tap water around the mouth after consumption of sweet and acidic food and drinks • When creating party bags try to include non-sticky food and novelty items instead of sweet, sugary treats.
It is important for children to maintain a well-balanced diet for optimal growth and development. Choose fresh or minimally-processed varieties of these foods, and check the ingredients on all packaged foods and drinks to see if sugar has been added. Taking the time to read the food labels can be an easy way to identify which foods are good for your child’s teeth. Be alert for hidden sugars that are also listed as glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, lactose, corn syrup and typically anything ending in ‘ose’. Choose foods that are lower in sugar, containing less than 15g of sugar per 100g.
Examples of food that are teeth-friendly include:
Cheese Natural yoghurt Fresh fruit Raw vegetables (eg. carrots, celery with tzatziki or hommus) Sliced ham, salmon, turkey Plain popcorn Dry biscuits (crackers) Plain rice crackers
Examples of food to avoid include:
Soft drinks (including sugar-free drinks), cordial, energy drinks Flavoured milk (eg. milo, Nesquik) Pre-packaged liquid breakfast (eg. up & go) Fruit juice Sweet biscuits and cakes Sweetened cereal Lollies and chocolate Dried fruit/muesli bars Jam, honey and sweetened spreads (eg. Nutella) Ice cream