Too much sugar is not good for health in the long term. But in the short term, sugar is very harmful to teeth – high sugar foods and drinks cause teeth to decay.
The most important thing is to limit the number of times a day that teeth are exposed to sugar. We don’t need sugary foods (they are “sometimes foods”, but it is least harmful to teeth to limit them to around mealtimes only.
Teeth and drinks
Pure fruit juices and smoothies contain natural sugars that are “free” to attack teeth, so are best at mealtimes only. This reduces the number of times a day that teeth are exposed to sugars.
Some sweet tasting diluting juices and fizzy drinks are “sugar free”. But these often contain artificial sweeteners which can give your child a taste for very sweet foods. Also, many of these drinks are acidic and this can be harmful to teeth.
The most suitable drinks for children are milk and water – these are kind to teeth as they contain no added sugar.
What about fruit?
Sugar in fresh fruit does not have much effect on children’s teeth. However, dried fruit can be sticky and may harm teeth if eaten frequently as a snack. Again, therefore, these are best at mealtimes only.
Diet and healthy teeth
Including milk, cheese or yoghurt every day will help a child get the calcium they need for health teeth and bones. Preschool children will also need vitamin D.
Toothbrushing and regular dental check ups are also very important of course. To find out more about keeping your child’s teeth healthy, visit the Childsmile webpages