When you go to the shop do you reach for the ‘fruit juice’ or ‘fruit drinks’ every time, because you think they are the healthiest option for your little one? Well, think and reach again, because recent studies in the UK and Ireland have found that almost half of five-year-old children have now got signs of tooth erosion. In fact, tooth erosion is now the most common chronic disease of children aged 5-17 years of age.
Tooth erosion is the wearing away of the teeth by the acids from the foods and drinks we are eating. The result is ‘thin’ teeth that are sensitive to hot, cold, and sweet food and drink. If erosion is left unchecked, the teeth may actually start to chip and will eventually wear away. Dental erosion is irreversible so prevention is the key.
So how do you make sure that your child’s teeth avoid erosion? Go for milk and water every time. These are tooth-healthy drinks that won’t cause erosion or tooth decay.
Cut out the juices, juice drinks, and squashes as much as you can, but if you have to drink them make sure it is with a meal, as a meal will protect teeth from the acidity in the drinks. Watch out too for foods marketed as being healthy, but that may also be acidic, such as commercial smoothies and fruit squeeze type purées. Using a straw for smoothies is a good way to reduce their contact with the teeth.
So go for milk and water on the next shopping trip, the ‘anytime drinks’ - your children’s teeth will thank you in the long run.
By Charlotte Johnston, community dietitian. For more information on diet and nutrition, please contact the Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster at (044 ) 9353220 or email [email protected].