Key stage 1
Something to smile about
Healthy snacking for healthy teeth
Many primary schools now run healthy snacking schemes allowing only nutritious foods and drinks such as fruit and milk at breaktime. This is good news for children’s diets in general, and for their teeth in particular.
That’s because what children eat and drink between meals can have a big effect on their dental health.
Every time children eat or drink something containing sugar, bacteria in plaque (the sticky coating on teeth) use the sugar as a fuel and produce acid as a waste product. Acid attacks the teeth. The more often teeth are exposed to acid, the greater the risk of decay. So dentists recommend keeping sugary food and drink mainly to meal times.
Sweet enough already?
For tooth friendly between–meal snacks and drinks try:
- bread e.g. sandwiches or toast
- small cubes of cheese
- vegetables e.g. pieces of raw carrot, tomato wedges
- sugar–free cereals
- unsweetened yogurt and fromage frais
- water and milk
Sugar isn’t the only issue for dental health. Acidic drinks such as fruit juice, squash and fizzy drinks (even ‘diet’ ones) can also damage teeth by a process called erosion. As with sugary stuff, the best protection plan is to keep acidic drinks for mealtimes.
Milk and water are the only drinks recommended by dentists for between meals.
Did you know?
Dental health is improving in Northern Ireland. By the time they leave primary school, around half of our children have twice the average level of tooth decay, down from three quarters 10 years ago. But this is still too many!