Will an Apple a Day Keep the Doctor and the Dentist Away?

We all know it’s important to look after our children’s teeth.  Establishing a healthy diet and a good oral hygiene routine will set them up for a healthy future, but when it comes to kids teeth, what should we be focusing on?

photo credit: Digital Wallpapers via photopincc

Looks good doesn’t it?  A fresh bowl of fruit and a delicious smoothie. 

We think of fruit, fruit juices and fruit based drinks such as smoothies, as healthy options for our children to drink, but in reality fruit contains lots of sugars.  When it comes to snack time, you may well be inclined to give your little one a fruit smoothie and some raisins but it’s actually far better for your children’s teeth for them to have a glass of water and some chocolate.  Now, I bet you never thought you’d hear a dentist saying that did you? But a report in May 2012  revealed the acid levels of some popular household juice drinks to be higher than you might think and they significantly contribute to tooth decay in children.  Over 50% of 5 year olds already show signs of tooth enamel damage due to a diet too high in acid.

This infographic taken from The Telegraph 20 May 2012 shows the acid levels and sugar levels of some of the most common drinks we give to our children.  As you can see, milk has a much more neutral pH balance, which is far healthier for the teeth.

fruit and fruit smoothies infographic.jpg

Taken from The Telegraph 20/05/12 Dentists' warning on smoothies and juices: popular drinks more acidic than vinegarFive a day

Getting your children to eat their five portions of fruit and vegetables is important for their physical health but the acid level in fruit is not good for their teeth. So, how do you get around this?

Dentists generally agree with the advice of ensuring you eat your five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, but to minimise the effects of damage to your children’s teeth, you should ensure water is given with these foods and try to stick to them being part of a meal rather than a snack.  Ideally, fruit juice or smoothies should be kept as once-a-week treats. The safest options for good oral health are milk (from a cup, not a bottle) and water.  However, eating something containing calcium alongside any fruit, such as cheese, will help to neutralise the fruit acids and the effect they have on the teeth.

Twice a day

Brushing teeth twice a day is really important and we all encourage our children to do this from an early age.  To ensure your children are doing this properly though, it’s a good idea to supervise them until they are able to write their own name clearly.  Once they can do this, you can be sure they have the right level of dexterity to be doing a good job of brushing their teeth correctly.  After eating fruit or drinking a fruit based drink, it’s advisable to wait at least an hour before reaching for the tooth brush.  The acidity in the fruit or drink weakens the teeth and waiting at least an hour allows the saliva in the mouth to restore the balance. 

So, like everything in life, it’s all about moderation and getting the balance right.

Beeston Dental Practice and their Kids Club are winners of the 2012 ‘Outstanding Contribution to Oral Health Awards’.