The recent press has many articles about the state of children’s teeth and needing to have lots of teeth extracted. This, unfortunately, is an ever growing problem. It’s very shocking to the general public and this is the reason why newspapers write about it. It’s traumatic for the child involved, and generally the parents too.
What is the cause?
To get straight to the point, it is caused by sugar, non-milk extrinsic (NME) sugars to give them their full title. Sugar, and more importantly, the frequency of consumption of sugars are the cause. Unfortunately, sugars are contained in most foods, but certainly almost all processed foods.
How does sugar affect teeth?
Once you chew a food containing sugar or take a sip of a sugary drink it changes your saliva to acidic, with pH of 5.5 or less causing damage to enamel. It takes 20 minutes for the pH level of your teeth to return to normal level above 5.5 pH through saliva buffering. If you ingest another sugary food or drink within this 20 minutes, it means your teeth are in an acidic environment for longer. When in this acidic environment the tooth enamel can be damaged leading to tooth decay.
How do you prevent this tooth decay?
Ideally you decrease the intake of (NME) sugars, and decrease the frequency that they are consumed. This allows your saliva to return the pH to normal more quickly, and the acidic condition doesn’t happen as often, so tooth decay cannot happen as much.
What to eat instead?
I generally advise to snack safely. That is to only have sugar-free foods and drinks between meals. Water and milk are the drinks of choice. Safe foods are whole fruits (not juices or smoothies), plain yoghurt cheese, bread, rice cakes. This is instead of reaching for juice and biscuits.
Crisps are a safe snack for teeth, but as a health-care professional I cannot propose these being a “safe” snack due to their very high fat and salt content.
Other helpful tips for the best care for children’s teeth:
Back to Blog
“Cannot fault the service from this practice. All the staff are warm, friendly and welcoming. The skills and expertise from Claire and her team are second to none. I would have no hesitation recommending it. 😁”