Which foods cause tooth decay?

Your child’s diet is one of the most important factors in developing dental decay and small changes can make a big difference.

In the previous blog post we looked at how foods containing sugar combine with bacteria in plaque to produce acid. If the teeth are subjected to frequent or long periods of acid attack, decay becomes likely to occur.

Most people are aware that children who eat too many sweets and candies are likely to get cavities. However, any foods that are are high in refined carbohydrates (starch), such as crackers and chips, can cause decay if the foods remain stuck to the teeth for long periods of time, as the starch breaks down into sugar. In fact, one good way to determine if a snack is good for a child is to check their teeth 20 minutes after consumption. If the teeth are still filled with food, the risk for dental decay will be higher. These foods should be eaten only rarely and teeth should be brushed afterwards.

There are a lot of “hidden sugars” in processed food. If you read the ingredients, they may be labelled as sucrose, glucose, lactose, or fructose – these are all types of sugar. In addition to containing high levels of sugar, many children’s breakfast cereals also stick onto the teeth. Even diet soda drinks and concentrated fruit juices can cause decay as they are acidic.

It is not realistic to ban your child from eating sweets. altogether. Instead, limit consumption of sweets and candy to maximum of once a day, preferably at the end of a meal. Those treats that dissolve and clear from the mouth quickly eg. a milk chocolate bar, are better than hard candies, lollipops or sticky caramels. Sweets should be eaten in one go, rather than continually snacking on them.

Children do get hungry and need to snack. Choose healthy snacks such as fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, cheese. For drinks in between meals go for water or milk without added sugar.

 

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