Service Provided by:
At Home Dental

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Service Provided by:
At Home Dental

Eating Well for Healthy Teeth

Consider how the food and drinks you give your child can affect their teeth.

Try to include something from each of the five food groups throughout the day, but keep an eye out for hidden sugars. 

  • Fruit & vegetables
  • Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates
  • Beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins
  • Dairy and alternatives
  • Oils and spreads

How to Encourage Healthy Eating

To encourage healthy eating, it is important to reduce overall snacking and concentrate on providing healthy nutritious meals.

Children need energy as they grow to develop and keep them active, so understandably your child may desire a snack from time to time. Snacks should be healthy, high in nutrients but low in sugar, fat and salt. Some snacks can be more harmful to teeth than others, so try to give your child healthy, sugar-free, snacks between meals. If lots of sugary foods and drinks are consumed too frequently, then there is a high risk that your child will develop tooth decay. Reducing the consumption as well as the frequency of sugary foods and drinks is important in preventing tooth decay.

It can be difficult to encourage children to eat healthy snacks. A great way to encourage children to eat a healthy snack is to get them involved in the preparation of the snack (where safe to do so). Spend time together doing this. As well as being fun, it will help your child find out more about healthy food, which may encourage them to try other good snacks.

Encouraging your child to actively participate safely in the preparation of their healthy snacks will result in them being more likely to choose them over unhealthy alternatives.

When children are hungry, they usually want something to eat straight away. A great way to manage this is to ensure you have some healthy choices prepared ahead in advance for the day. Selectively choosing what you offer children as a snack may help your child to make their own healthy choices.

Not only is it important what your child eats, but also when they eat or drink it. Every time we have anything containing sugar, our teeth are under attack for around an hour. Imagine giving your child a sugary treat or drink every few hours. From the moment they wake up to the minute they drift off to sleep, their teeth will be under attack constantly. To reduce this adverse effect on teeth, only allow foods or drinks which are high in sugar to be consumed at mealtimes. This reduces the frequency of sugar consumption over your child’s day and consequently reduces their risk of developing tooth decay. • Avoid giving sugary drinks at or just before bedtime. Try not to give your child milk, milkshakes or hot chocolate at bedtime. These drinks will sit on the teeth during the night and can lead to dental decay. Water is the only drink your child should be consuming at night.

Encouraging your child to actively participate safely in the preparation of their healthy snacks will result in them being more likely to choose them over unhealthy alternatives.

What are Hidden Sugars?

Hidden sugars are ingredients in food and drink and although they are not seen as ‘sugar’ can still cause tooth decay.

There is a misconception with a lot of food products which are advertised as being ‘healthy’, however they can be very detrimental to the health of your teeth. For example, dried fruit and fresh fruit juices can be counted as part of your five-a-day. However, they contain hidden sugars and it is for this reason that they are best consumed at mealtimes.

It is important to read food labels. Some foods don’t have the word ‘sugar’ in the ingredients list on their packaging or are labelled with ‘no added sugar’, but still have sugar in them – it is just labelled in a different way. The names of hidden sugars usually end in ‘ose’ and the nearer the start of the list they are, the larger the amount of it included. Look out for sucrose, dextrose, maltose, fructose, lactose, glucose and honey as these are all hidden sugars.

Suggestions for Healthy Snacks

Here are some good and bad snack choices:

Good Choices

  • Fresh fruit – grapes, melon, banana, strawberries, satsuma, pear, peach, plum, apple. Fresh fruit kebabs can be fun to make and eat.
  • Fresh vegetables – tomatoes, celery, carrot and cucumber sticks, sliced peppers, sugar snap peas.
  • Tinned fruit and vegetables – in water, not salt or syrup.
  • Sandwiches – try various fillings: cold meat, tuna, cheese, egg, salad items, tomato or banana.
  • Some other choices – bread sticks, oatcakes, crackers, rice cakes, a plain or cheese scone, a crumpet, a bagel, plain nuts, hummus, natural yogurt, cream cheese.

Bad Choices

  • Sweetened yogurts – opt for plain yogurt instead.
  • Chocolate, sweets, biscuits, cereal bars, and other confectionary products.
  • Dried fruits – raisins, sultanas, dried apricots, dried mango, banana chips, fruit flakes/bars etc.
  • Jams and chocolate spreads.
  • Sugar coated breakfast cereals.

Suggestions for Healthy Drinks

Here are some good and bad drink choices:

Good Choices

  • Tap water.
  • Plain milk – semi-skimmed or full fat.
  • Small amounts of pure, unsweetened fruit juice should be diluted half and half (50% juice to 50% water), or with a greater proportion of water to juice. Keep to mealtimes only.

Bad Choices

  • Baby drinks – even those labelled ‘organic’ or ‘healthy’.
  • Flavoured waters – most flavoured waters contain artificial sweeteners or added sugars.
  • Flavoured milk, milkshakes and milk-based smoothies.
  • Squash and fizzy drinks.
  • Undiluted fruit juices – including juice labelled ‘no added sugar’.

Where to next?

Contact Eating Well for Healthy Teeth

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