Make the smile last

Dental care Rinse your mouth after every meal

Dental care Rinse your mouth after every meal  

Help children protect their teeth

Children probably consume the most sugar for their age and weight. This may explain why so many kids in this country have decayed teeth. An adult’s sugar is most likely to come from chai and mithai, while a child is more likely to get sugar from snacks: chocolates, candy, cakes, syrups, honey, jams, biscuits, ketchup, ice cream, pastries and soft drinks.

Acid-forming bacteria reside in the sticky plaque present on teeth. The sugar in food is the primary fuel for these bacteria. The acid they produce can dissolve the hard enamel that makes the teeth chewing machines. This can lead to cavities and wearing of teeth. Limiting the amount of simple sugars like sucrose and fructose in the diet can protect teeth.

Three factors determine the teeth-dissolving effect of sugar: the number of times one eats sugary foods in a day, the time spent by sugar in the mouth and the texture of the food. Kids who consume sweet snacks many times during a day have sugar lodged between their teeth practically all day. Even fresh fruit and fruit juices can cause tooth decay when consumed in excess. Kids who do not brush or rinse their teeth after food prolong the time that acid-forming bacteria have to act on sugar. Sticky and chewy foods like toffees cling to teeth and cause more damage than foods easily rinsed away.

Children have small stomachs and snacking is almost a necessity for them. Parents can protect their children’s teeth by making healthful choices for meals and snacks.

Seeds, nuts, dairy products, legumes and whole-grain foods are the best foods and snacks for a child. For those who like sweet foods, fruits, unsweetened fruit juices and dates are best.

Toffees with a prominent chewy character are probably the worst sweets for a child. If chocolates are unavoidable, they had better be ones that dissolve easily in the mouth.

Soft drinks contain loads of sugar, and they are acidic in themselves, which make them among the worst offenders when it comes to tooth decay.

Children should avoid sweet snacks in between meals. Sweets are safest as dessert at the end of a meal. Parents should teach children to brush at least twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. These measures, along with regular trips to the dentist, will preserve teeth well into old age.

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