Stur & Dental Health

Summer treats, dental care and your kids

The warmer weather is here at last, mornings are brighter and the days are longer. No longer do you need to run from the car to your home and stay in on the long dark nights. Now you have time to walk more, go and play on the park or run an errand together with your kids. You are not alone and will inevitably find a local cafe, corner shop or ice cream van to negotiate along the way. What do you do? Buy you and your kids something to eat and drink along the way? How about staying in control and packing your own?

Hydration for kids is always important on a day to day basis. Due to differences in body composition, children have higher body water content relative to body mass than adults and like adults, if they drink to thirst, they may well not drink enough to replace their water losses. Take extra care to ensure that as the weather warms up your kids get enough to drink. Fresh fruit juices, soft drinks and fizzy drinks are often drinks of choice, but given that National surveys conclude many children exceed the recommended intake of added sugars by some amount, then hydration with a non sugar sweetened drink is a good choice. If it tastes nice then your kids will drink it and it’s much better for their teeth too.

On a day to day basis encourage your kids to eat three regular meals and one snack. This is not only a good nutrition strategy, but is about the right number of times they should eat each day to allow their teeth to recover and repair themselves in between. Limit sweet foods and drinks such as cakes, biscuits, cordial, squashes and fizzy drinks overall and, when they are eaten, eat them at mealtimes.

  • Pack your own drinks and snacks to eat when you are out and about
  • In between meals, and particularly when the weather is warmer, take a water bottle full of water or water flavoured with low calorie sweetener and carry it with you at all times
  • Stevia, a naturally-sourced zero calorie sweetener, can be used by you and your kids to enjoy the taste of sweet with no added calories
  • References

    • Rowland, T (2011). Fluid replacement requirements for child athletes. Sports Med 41: 279-288
    • National Diet and Nutrition Survey: Headline Results from Years 1, 2 and 3 (combined) of the Rolling Programme 2008/09 – 2010/11

Dental care and your kids

January 31st 2014

The good news is that over the last couple of decades the prevalence of dental caries has declined. Before we tap ourselves on the back too much however, tooth decay is currently one of the most widespread health problems in the UK, affecting about 31% of adults. In addition, tooth decay is affecting about 1/3 of children starting school and around 1/3 children aged 12 years old.

Water and Dental Health

The whole process of dental decay is quite complicated although because tooth enamel is still being developed and is relatively soft, children are particularly vulnerable in their first 6 years of life. Things that affect the development of tooth decay include:

  • The type of carbohydrate eaten – sugars such as sucrose, glucose and fructose promote tooth decay more than other sugars found in foods including starch. Low calorie sweeteners do not contribute to tooth decay
  • How often sugary and starchy foods are eaten – frequent eating of sugary foods can damage teeth, particularly in childhood
  • The texture of the food – chewy and sticky foods stay in the mouth longer and bits may wedge between teeth
  • How often and how well you clean your teeth

Dental erosion is different from dental caries because it is caused by exposure to dietary ‘acid’ rather than acid produced by the bacterial action on foods eaten. These dietary acids are commonly found in soft drinks, fruit juices, citrus fruit (oranges, lemons), berries and vinegar. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s unwise to clean teeth immediately after eating or drinking acidic foods and drinks as the brush may also remove some of the tooth enamel.

Top tips to help keep your kids teeth healthy and free from decay

  • Offer sugary foods with meals, not on their own
  • Only serve sugary drinks occasionally encourage your kids to drink through a straw
  • End their meals with a small piece of cheese or glass of milk (offsets acid production)
  • Encourage them to brush their teeth with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day before meals
  • Swap sugar sweetened drinks for water and/or water flavoured with low calorie sweetener
  • Visit the dentist for regular check-ups

Penny Hunking Registered Dietitian

-Penny Hunking RD, R.SEN, R.Nutr (Public Health)

From fuelling fitness for sports performance to healthy eating and fat loss, Penny Hunking has written, researched and talked to consumers and professionals about virtually every aspect of diet, weight management and exercise. She has also written or contributed to many books on key aspects of food, fat loss, fitness and special diets in a career spanning more than 3 decades.

Penny is a Registered Dietitian, a member of the British Dietetic Association, the Nutrition Society, Nutritionists in Industry, Association of Obesity and Sports Dietitians UK. But life is not all hard work, she is passionate about scuba diving, water skiing, cookery, travel and eating out.

RD – Registered Dietitian
R.SEN – Registered Sport and Exercise Nutritionist
R.Nutr – Registered Nutritionist (with a nutrition specialism in Public Health)