Tooth brushing won’t stop decay for children who snack all day, reiterates Malcolm Harbour from Harbour Dental Care following the publication of a new study on pre-school children.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow found children who snack all day – compared with just eating meals – are far more likely to have dental decay.
The snacking habits of more than 4,000 pre-school children were looked at by scientists, who found that tooth brushing only partly protects against the effects of sugary snacks on children’s teeth.
Learning by example
Parental socio-economic factors, such as a mother’s education level, explain more of the difference in children’s dental decay than diet or oral hygiene.
Dental experts say that even though milk teeth are temporary, good oral hygiene habits are set in childhood, and this relates both to diet and tooth brushing.
Children who brushed less than once a day or not at all at two years old had twice the chance of having dental decay when they were five, compared with children who brushed their teeth twice a day or more.
This is why the dental team at our friendly practice on Ipswich High Street always encourages younger patients to brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes using fluoride toothpaste. We also suggest they cut down on how many sugary snacks they eat, limiting them to mealtimes wherever possible.
Brushing more frequently helps
Restricting sugar intake is desirable for both nutritional reasons and for children’s dental health.
Study co-author, Dr Stephanie Chambers, from the University of Glasgow said: “Among children eating sweets or chocolate once a day or more, tooth brushing more often – once or twice a day or more – reduced the likelihood of decay compared with less frequent brushing.”
Please speak to our understanding and helpful dental team if you are concerned about your child’s dental health and their sugar consumption.
* The study is published in the Journal of Public Health.