Advice released today from Public Health England (PHE) suggests that cutting children’s snacking to just two snacks of fewer than 100 calories a day will pay dividends in the fight against childhood obesity.
A group of dentists behind the award-winning oral health innovation Brushlink have welcomed the advice from PHE but also state that such a reduction in snacking will also be of benefit to the health of children’s teeth. Tooth decay is the leading medical reason for young people in the UK being admitted to hospital.
“According to the PHE report children eat an average of 3.4 snacks a day,” said Dev Patel, CEO and founder of Brushlink and a practising dentist, “On average, over a year a child will consume 400 biscuits, 120 cakes, buns and pastries, 100 portions of sweets, 70 chocolate bars and ice creams, all washed down with 150 fizzy drinks. Not only is the high sugar content of these foods bad for teeth, but so is the habit of snacking.”
Snacking outside of meal times means that acid levels in the mouth are kept at a comparatively constant high level, contributing to tooth erosion and ultimately decay and gum disease. Recent research from King’s College London Dental Institute also showed that the longer you take to eat or drink acidic foods, the higher the rate of sensitive teeth.
Dev commented, “The general rule is that it is safer for children’s teeth for sugar laden food and fizzy drinks to be consumed with a meal, so that the mouth has time to ‘recover’ and balance out the acidity. Grazing means that the mouth does not get this ‘down time’ and acidic levels remain high for longer. Sugar-free gum is an effective way to combat this, as is an effective oral care regime with regular and thorough brushing.
“Using technology such as Brushlink, which we have developed to provide a brushing score each time it is used and which is great for families (parents and kids can compete with each other to see who is the ‘best brusher’), is an effective way to ingrain good oral health habits from an early age. The score is displayed along with ‘in-brush’ coaching tips and hints via a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone app; data is stored for up to three months in case the user does not have a phone in the bathroom and a Brushlink device can be attached to any toothbrush, manual or electric. It’s like having your own personal dentist or dental hygienist and therapist in the bathroom with you.”
Parents are advised that children should brush their teeth with a pea-sized blob of toothpaste twice a day, once after breakfast and then before bedtime. Sugary foods and drinks should be confined to meal times with only water consumed after the last meal of the day and before bed.
Brushing should be for at least two minutes at a time, and fun technology such as Brushlink and Brush DJ can help to achieve this. It is generally recommended that a parent supervise their children’s brushing up to the age of eight.