This post is sponsored by Colgate.
With Halloween, end of school year parties and Christmas just around the corner, this time of year can feel like heaven for kids who love sweet treats and sugary drinks, and while the majority of parents I know are pretty mindful when it comes to their kids and these ‘sometimes’ foods, ongoing holiday celebrations certainly make our job that bit harder!
It is however worth our due diligence. Tooth decay is now Australia’s most common health problem (as reported by the Australian Dental Association) and amazingly – it’s almost entirely preventable.
Sugary foods and drinks are a major cause of cavities and Colgate’s recent research reveals that 50 per cent of Australian kids aged 6-14 have trick or treated at least once in their lives and that Australian parents are expected to spend $22 million on sugary treats this year.
So when I was presented with the opportunity to ask Dr Sue, one of Colgate’s qualified in-house dentists for more information about this issue, I jumped at the chance to better understand what we can do about it. Here are Dr Sue’s responses to my questions;
How does a child’s diet impact upon their dental health?
In simple terms sugar feeds bacteria, which produce acid which dissolves tooth minerals. Therefore sugary foods need to be carefully monitored in children’s diets. Constant snacking and sipping on foods that contain sugars does not allow the acid levels in the mouth to return to normal and promotes tooth decay.
How/why is sugar consumption important to tooth decay?
While there are a number of factors behind tooth decay, a poor or incomplete daily oral care routine and high sugar diet are the top causes. In fact, the number one cause of tooth decay is the consumption of sugary foods and drinks on a regular basis, as they provide sugars for decay causing bacteria to thrive. That’s why brushing teeth night and day with a fluoride toothpaste, or even one with sugar acid neutralizing technology is so important to reduce the risk of tooth decay.
What are the primary ways we can help prevent tooth decay in children?
Be aware of the sugar content of foods and drinks and limit the number of sugary foods consumed in a day. It is best to consume sugary foods at mealtimes and be sure to have breaks between meals to allow the mouth to return to normal. Only put water into drink bottles at school and be sure to brush teeth with a fluoridated paste twice a day. Adults should supervise and assist children under the age of 8 years until they are able to reach and clean all the tooth surfaces in the mouth on their own.
What is the best way to teach a child to clean their own teeth?
Make brushing a game, sometimes it’s as simple as a sing along or telling a story. Another idea is to make brushing a part of the bath routine, as they will already be wet and it can make it more enjoyable. It can also be as simple as setting the example, so show children how you brush your own teeth.
How often and at what time(s) of day do you recommend children brush their teeth?
Children should be brushing twice a day. Always brush after the last food/drink that’s consumed before they go to bed and at one other time in the day.
At what age should we begin using toothpaste with children?
Most children should brush without toothpaste until they are 18 months of age. From 18 months to 6 years children should use a children’s paste with 500 ppm fluoride and from 6 years they can use an adult strength paste. If your child is at high risk of tooth decay please consult your dental professional as the guidelines for these children are different. Children are at risk of early childhood tooth decay as soon as their baby teeth begin to erupt so one of the most important health lessons you can give is teaching them good daily oral care habits as well as supervising their daily oral care routine.
What is important to know about young children and toothpaste?
Toothpaste that is specifically designed for young children (under the age of 6) has a mild flavour, lower levels of fluoride and foams less than adult pastes. This allows the child to get used to using paste. Use a smear or a small pea sized amount of paste with young children and encourage them to spit out. Most children cannot spit properly until they are around 6 years old so this will take some perseverance.
For those with children aged over six years of age, adding Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutraliser to your daily oral care routine provides an additional line of defence against tooth decay. This breakthrough toothpaste helps de-activate sugar acids before they have the chance to harm teeth and it can reduce early decay by half (after six months use). Including Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutraliser as part of your daily tooth brushing routine really does make sense.
I’d love to know, how do you manage your child’s consumption of sugary foods at this time of year?