Sugary snacks to blame for decay

Sugary snacks and drinks are the worst nightmare for children’s teeth.

Charles Sturt University oral health lecturer Libby Warlow said the university clinic is seeing “a significant incidence of decay.”

A lack of fluoride and sugar consumption are the two main contributing factors.

When comparing children living in town, who are exposed to fluoride in town water supplies, with children on farms, who drink rain water, the difference is “obvious.”

To combat this Ms Warlow recommends using fluoridated toothpaste twice daily.

“The days of giving farm children fluoride tablets are gone,” she said.

“There is no great benefit to having fluoride supplements systemically.

“It is better to use a fluoridated toothpaste and not rinsing after brushing to allow the fluoride to have a topical effect on the teeth.”

To combat sugar consumption look at snacks closely to see how much sugar they contain.

Talk to your dental practitioner for advice on what are some better snack options.

“In a busy world it is easy for parents to allow children “convenience” foods,” Ms Warlow said.

“Sticky-fruit snacks, muesli bars and cereal bars are affectionately known as the “trifecta of causing tooth decay.” Labelling on many of these products use words like “healthy, fruit, rice,” so parents can be forgiven for thinking they are making good choices.”

There is also a perception that baby teeth “don’t matter” but this is completely untrue. “It is important that the teeth be able to follow the order of exfoliation and eruption to maintain space for permanent teeth and allow them to naturally erupt,” Ms Warlow said.

“When children have teeth removed prematurely due to disease it is likely they will encounter orthodontic issues later on which can be very costly.”

Follow Ms Warlow’s tips to keep teeth in top condition:

  • Brush twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste
  • Spit after brushing, don't rinse
  • Minimise sugary drinks and foods
  • Get annual check ups 
  • Get your child’s first check up before they turn one
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