Public Health England (PHE) is working with dental teams in the South West to give sugar the brush off and help parents change the snacks they give their children.
PHE’s Change4Life campaign advises families to look for 100 calorie snacks, 2 a day max, after research showed children were eating nearly three times the recommended amount of sugar; with half coming from snacks and sugary drinks.
Too much sugar not only leads to weight gain and obesity, but also painful dental decay. In the South West an average of 21.7% of five year-olds have decayed, missing or filled teeth.
To help fill in the gaps of people’s sugar-busting knowledge, dentists from the region are signing up to the Change4Life public health campaign. With the help of the Top Tips for Teeth dental toolkit they are sharing messages and advice with parents who come into their surgeries about the best ways to prevent tooth decay in children. The most important advice from dentists is:
- reduce sugar
- brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste
- get regular dental checks from an early age
Dentist Elise Helps from South Gloucestershire, said: “It is great to have this opportunity to join forces and raise awareness of the simple, achievable things every family can do to improve dental health in children.
“It is not just childhood obesity that too much sugar leads to. I am often shocked at what I come across in my dentist’s chair – far too much decay and too many fillings in those far too young.
“Being snack smart – swapping out sugar for healthier food and drink choices – is a vital step in the fight against cavities. Another is to visit the dentist regularly and we recommend parents bring their children in from the moment their teeth start coming through – so at around six months.
“Getting the most from your toothbrush is also important – many new parents don’t realise until we tell them that there are different amounts of fluoride recommended for different ages and it is important to spit – not rinse.
“A lot of our tips may seem like common sense – but by brushing up on these messages we hope to get parents and kids talking and thinking about their dental health.
“It is so important to make it a priority and introduce good brushing habits early – after which they can hopefully last a lifetime.”
Dentists’ top tips for parents
- Be snack Smart
- Easy less sugar, less often – preferably only at mealtimes
- Avoid sugary food and drink before bedtime
- Swap sugary drinks for sugar-free, diet or no added sugar drinks – water or low fat milk the best
- 4-6 year olds should have no more than 19g of sugar a day (5 sugar cubes)
- 7-10 year olds should have no more than 24g of sugar a day (6 sugar cubes)
- 11+ year olds should have no more than 30g of sugar a day (7 sugar cubes)
- Don’t replace sugary snacks with salty ones. Recommend snacks such as plain homemade popcorn or rice cakes
- See the Dentist – Take kids to dentist as soon as first tooth starts to comes through – and go back as your dentist recommends. Remember that NHS dental treatment is free for everyone under 18, and for mothers from the time they become pregnant to when their baby is one years-old.
- Getting the Most from Your Toothbrush –
- Brush with recommended amount of fluoride as soon as first tooth shows itself at six months. Amount depends on age and can be found on packets. Twice is nice – once before bed and another whenever suits your family routine. Spit don’t rinse – water washes fluoride away