We are protective of our children now more than ever but particularly so when it comes to food and drink and what we’re giving them to consume. With such a huge choice available from different home-friendly brands it can be difficult to know what to give our kids, that won’t harm their teeth.
Children will always gravitate toward sugary drinks like juices and soda pops but it’s important to make sure they have other options available and to condition them to get into a good habit of choosing the right foods.
Habit is Vital
So what are the best habits for children to adopt?
- Always ensure they brush twice a day
- Floss/interdental brush daily
- Drink water before bed, not milk or juice which contains sugar
- No snacks or sugary foods before bed
The best way to cut down children on sugar is to encourage swaps. In effect, swapping out to alternatives which offer more appropriate options. The fact is that children are suffering from sugar based diets which are causing a wide spread of tooth decay, which results in future problems and creates bad habits.
So what are the easy swaps to make?
- White bread – White bread contains sugar and starch which can cause digestive problems if eaten in excess, with a fairly high sugar content.
Swap with: Wholegrain alternatives
- Cheese (Spread or Cheddar) – Great for dairy content and calcium but high in fat
Swap with: Reduced fat cheese (hard)
- Cordial & Juice – Cordial does have high sugar content and natural juice also contains sugar levels which are too high, particularly at bedtime.
Swap with: No added sugar cordial & water
- Creamy Sauces – Cheese sauces and creamy alternatives should be swapped out because of their fat and sugar content.
Swap with: Homemade tomato sauces (using tinned tomatoes and vegetables).
- Chocolate desserts and snacks – Obviously anything with chocolate, whether it’s biscuits or cakes should be cut out or at least reduced to once or twice a week.
Swap with: Fruit pots, malt loaf & sugar-free alternative dessert pots
It’s too easy to give children easy options that are quick and addictive but they can lead to cavities and gum disease which would then cause problems later in life. Oral health is important for adults but just as important for children and although it can be difficult to get them into a habit of brushing thoroughly every day, it’s vital that they are consistent. Generally, as with anything involving younger children, it’s a good idea to include fun and incentivise them to make pre-bedtime brushing enjoyable and part of their regular routine, which they’ll carry with them into adulthood and prevent tooth decay and oral health problems.