What sort of foods are safer for my children's teeth?

The diet is probably one of the most important factors contributing to decay in New Zealand. It's the frequency of sugary/starchy snacks and liquids during the day which is more important thank the actual amount of sugar. The more often your child eats sugary foods and fizzy or fruit drinks, the more chance he or she has of getting cavities. Sugar is often present in foods in which you wouldn't expect to find it; for example, fruit contains fructose, a natural sugar. "Natural" sugars have the same effect on your child's teeth as the sugar in your sugar bowl. Natural fruit juices "with no added sugar" contain natural sugars and acids, which can damage teeth. Check the ingredient labels. The following are sugars: honey, syrup, glucose, lactose, sucrose, dextrose and fructose.

  • Reduce in-between mealtime snacks
  • Sweet foods are best given at mealtimes when there is more saliva produced, rather than between meals. Saliva helps neutralise the effects of acid.
  • Cheese at the end of a meal or for play lunch also neutralises acid.
  • Sugar-free sweets (chewing gum) are much better as it stimulates saliva production.
  • Encourage savoury snacks rather than chocolate, dried fruit and sweets. Raw vegetables and cheese are great snacks and nutritious.

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