The single most common cause of dental caries is the frequency of sugar in the diet. We realise that eliminating sugars completely from your family's diet is unrealistic, because most of your foods contain some form of sugar or starch.
However, you can still control the amount of sugar you and your family consume and reduce the total time your teeth are susceptible to bacterial acids. Consider the following dietary adjustments:
- Eat a nutritious and balanced diet of grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and low-fat dairy. Limit between-meal snacks. Offer healthy snacks, such as cheese and fruits.
- Read the labels on your drinks to check the sugar level. Check food labels for "hidden" sugars.
- The new World Health Organisation guidelines are now recommending no more than 25g per day, a single teaspoon of sugar is 4g, 1 sugar cube is approximately 5g, so you can see how easy it is to reach that amount.
- Avoid sugary foods that stay in your mouth for a long time, like hard/sticky or chewy varieties.
- Save your sugary treats for the end of a meal or before a tooth-brushing session, rather than throughout the day.
- Water and milk are the best drinks at any time. Squashes, cordials, juice drinks and fizzy drinks should only be consumed occasionally and at meal times — for children add extra water.
Remember to brush your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes using a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Spit out the toothpaste but do not rinse. Floss at least once a day. Use mouthwash after meals.