The health of preschoolers’ teeth has been in the news a lot in the past year. We all know what sugar does to our bodies. People with a lot of public attention have been spreading the word about these effects. Sugar is linked to many well-known health problems, such as tooth decay, a higher risk of diabetes, obesity, and hyperactivity.
Recent studies have shown that 5 year olds in Leicester have one of the highest rates of rotten teeth in the country. I’ve seen pre-schoolers with one or more decayed teeth, and I’ve also seen 3–5-year-olds who needed all their teeth taken out under general anaesthesia, which was a very upsetting thing to see.
The best way to keep your teeth from going bad is by
- Children should brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste made for their age. This should be done with an adult’s help.
- Don’t rinse your mouth out with water after brushing. Instead, spit out any extra toothpaste, so that the good parts of the toothpaste can stay in your mouth for a long time.
- Keeping a healthy diet with few or no sugary foods or drinks
- Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables. Some fruits are acidic, so watch how often you eat them. Try to limit sugary drinks and snacks as much as possible, and if you do have them, try to have them with a meal instead of in between.
- Don’t drink fruit juices because they can hurt your teeth.
- If you offer sweet drinks or foods, please don’t do it every day and keep the amount small.
- Going to the dentist regularly
Juice and hidden sugars in drink and food
The daily recommended amount of sugar for a pre-schooler is about 19 grammes, which is about 5 sugar cubes. For children ages 7 to 10, the amount is 24 grammes (6 sugar cubes). There are so many hidden sugars in the foods and drinks we eat and drink every day that it is easy for people to go over their RDA. We shouldn’t forget that juices, particularly orange and apple juice, have a pH of about 3, which makes them very acidic. This will cause their teeth to wear down and their enamel to wear away. All of these things, plus the fact that the kids drink juice every day, will make it much more likely for them to get cavities. It is also well known that children ages 3 to 5 who have easy access to juice will choose it over milk or water. This will set them up for the rest of their lives to prefer sugary drinks and drink them more often. Look at how much sugar is in cereals, cereal bars, cookies, cakes, and juices so that sugar intake can be limited and kids don’t start drinking juice too young.