W: What types of good dental health behaviours should parents be teaching their children?
SC: Some simple dental health behaviours that will help reduce cavities include:
- Drinking water. It’s good for you and your teeth. Replace sugary drinks with water whenever possible and stay hydrated. Saliva is very protective for your teeth and if you are dehydrated, your saliva diminishes.
- Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent tooth decay. It is especially important to make sure you brush before bed and don’t eat or drink anything other than water after that.
- Limiting consumption of sugary foods and drinks. Give your teeth a rest! It takes about 20 minutes for your mouth to get back to neutral after a sugar acid attack so the more often you snack on sugar the more acid your teeth have to fight off.
W: Is popcorn is worse for teeth than chocolate?
SC: Popcorn is fine for teeth except if it is coated in sugar or if you bite on an unpopped kernel too hard! Things that stick to your teeth for extended periods and are high in sugar e.g. toffees and fruit leathers, will potentially have a more detrimental effect as they allow bacteria a longer time to convert the sugar to acid and dissolve the mineral structure of the tooth.
W: What other tips can you share to help us maintain a healthy smile for life?
- Visit your dental professional regularly – it is far better to find problems when they are small than to wait until you have pain or discomfort, as this usually means a big and expensive problem!
- Chewing sugar-free gum can stimulate saliva and help to protect your teeth
- Don’t smoke. Smoking can discolour your teeth and is a risk factor for gum disease
*The term “free sugars” refers to all sugar added to foods by manufacturers, cooks or consumers, as well as the sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit syrups.
1. The Colgate Cavity Report 2017
2. The National Child Oral Health Survey 2012-2017