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Parents advised to limit sugar intake in children

The oral health of children is being put at risk by parents giving them sugary treats and sweet drinks.

Nearly 62 per cent of children aged between 12-18 months consume a diet rich in sugar, preserves and confectionery, according to the Diet and Nutrition Survey of Infants and Young Children (DNSIYC).

This prevents an obvious problem with regards to oral health in children, especially if their parents are not looking after their teeth and encouraging brushing from a young age.

The British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) is particularly worried by the findings of the survey. While the body recognises that it is difficult for parents to remove sugary products from their child’s diet altogether, it is advising them to reduce the amount consumed.

Chief executive of BDHF Dr Nigel Carter said: “The most important message to remember is it is not the amount of sugar children eat or drink, but the frequency of sugary foods and drinks in their diets.

“Children aren’t born with a sweet tooth. It is acquired over time due to their dietary habits,” he said.

Instead BDHF is advising parents to give their children only still water and milk between meals, rather than sugary drinks. In addition, replacing sweet treats with savoury foods such as vegetables and cheese is better for their overall oral health.

Based on the findings from DNSIYC, surgeries could utilise dental welcome packs to advise parents on the dangers of allowing their children to consume too many sugary products.

If surgeries warn parents about the increased risk of oral health problems in children, they could help to cut down on the instances of tooth decay and other such problems caused by sweet drinks and confectionary.

In addition, it would worth highlighting the importance of taking children to a dentist for regular checkups, brushing for at least two minutes every morning and evening and using fluoride toothpaste.

If parents adopt these measures, oral health in children will be significantly improved.

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