So it’s nothing new to hear that sugar isn’t good for your teeth, but do you know why? And is there hidden sugar in your children’s diet, that is negatively impacting upon their oral health?
The plaque on your teeth is a complex biofilm (community) of bacteria that loves nothing more than for you to indulge in your favourite sugary treats. It’s the sugar in your diet that these bacteria eat, and then once it digests that sugar, it excretes acid that in turns breaks down your tooth structure causing tooth decay. This sugar may come from sweet treats like lollies, cakes and ice creams, but it may also come from fruits, grains, rice and vegetables that are high in carbohydrates. This is why reducing sugar and refined carbohydrates in your diet will instantly reduce your potential for forming dental cavities.
What snacks are packing more sugar than you’d expect and potentially leading to poor oral health? The most common lunch box treat isn’t only high in sugar, but is also acidic are fruit juices and poppers. Most parents would be surprised to know that Golden Circle Sunshine Punch contains 30.6g of sugar in 250ml, compared to Coca-Cola’s 26.5g in 250ml. The best drink for your child’s lunch box and teeth is water.
Fruit flavoured yogurts are often full of sugars, some from fruits as well as added cane sugar. Yogurt and dairy based snacks are great for teeth but make sure it is a plain natural yogurt without any of the added sugar. Most plain yogurts will contain around 4.7g of sugar per 100g; this is due to the lactose, while fruit varieties will have around 20g of sugar per 100g or nearly 4 teaspoons of sugar. Another great alternative for the lunchbox is cheese snacks.
A common toddler treat is a box of sultanas, perhaps given how sweet they are to taste it isn’t too surprising that these are packed full of sugar. Sultanas contain 65.2g of sugar per 100g, this means that roughly two thirds of a sultana is sugar. Dried fruit is a sure way to consume a lot of sugar quickly, as fruit in it’s dehydrated form is very easy to eat a lot of without becoming full. Even when fruit is in its whole form, it should be limited, and always remember to rinse with water after eating it to get rid of any residual sugar and acid from your teeth. The best fruits for low sugar snacks are berries, strawberries are a great way to have a fruit fix with out hurting your teeth.
Muesli bars are another treat that seems to have consumers convinced that they are healthy, but how much sugar really hides in the standard snack? Most bars on the supermarket shelves contain between 40-60g of sugar per 100g, which is alarming when you think that milk chocolate has 52.8g per 100g. As an alternative, swap for a handful of nuts instead.
A healthy diet is very important for healthy teeth, so make sure you are choosing the best foods to keep those smiles bright.