29 March 2018

Easter, the most important date on the Christian calendar, but for many people it means one thing, CHOCOLATE! Chocolate used to be a treat after people had completed fasting as part of lent, but now most people skip this part and indulge on chocolate in the lead up to big binge on Easter Sunday. When it comes to our oral health, chocolate can unfortunately mean bad news because of it’s sugar content.

Chocolate equals sugar when it comes to oral health and over this time it can have a huge effect on many people’s teeth. How you manage the sudden influx of sugary products to your kitchen cupboard and how your children are allowed to chomp their way through them is very important.

The Oral Health Foundation is offering the following advice to make sure that Easter is a happy holiday for the nation’s children but not a period where their teeth have to suffer.

Limit chocolate to meal times only

It may be tempting to only let your children have chocolate every few hours but, this is one of the worst things you can do as far as their teeth are concerned. Each time we eat anything sugary, our teeth are under acid attack for around an hour. So, imagine giving children a sweet and sugary treat every few hours during the day. Their teeth would be constantly under attack!

Did you know: around a third of children between the ages of 5 and 12 have visible signs of tooth decay. The main cause of which, is frequent sugar consumption.

The best course of action is to limit the amount of chocolate children eat to a minimum, perhaps just one small Easter egg for each of your children and keep the number of times they eat their chocolate to as little as possible. Instead of constant snacking, maybe just at meal times, which will reduce the amount of times their teeth come into contact with sugar.

Find low-sugar chocolate alternatives

See if you can be the house that keeps the children in the neighbourhood happy and do their parents a favour by opting not to give them products packed with sugar, that’s a win-win for everybody.

Did you know: nobody is actually born with a “sweet tooth.” Children only develop a craving for it if eaten at an early age.

Keep an eye out for sugar-free and low-sugar chocolates because they will do considerably less damage to their teeth than products packed with sugar. Have a look at the labels. If you see any ingredients that end in -ose, it means it contains sugar and it’s best to steer clear if you can.  

Don’t make chocolate a habit

Regardless which sweets and chocolates your little ones get given, there are much more healthy and nutritious things that children should be eating on a regular basis.

Did you know: It’s much easier to maintain a good oral hygiene routine during teenage years and beyond, if children practice good habits from an early age. Good oral hygiene absolutely does include diet!

A diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, fresh fruit and vegetables, which is maintained later on in life, gives your children the best chance of preventing gum disease as they progress into their teenage years and adulthood.

No chocolate an hour before bedtime

As mentioned earlier on, whenever you eat or drink anything containing sugar in, the top surface of the teeth, otherwise called enamel is weakened. Brushing directly after eating can cause even more damage because you’re brushing away the weakened surface.

Did you know: Saliva is the body’s natural defence against acid attack. It takes about an hour for saliva to replace the minerals that the enamel loses.

Brushing straight after eating chocolate might seem to make sense but try to avoid this. Give their teeth time to recover and then allow them to brush with a fluoride toothpaste right before they go to sleep.

For more information on children’s teeth and how best to look after them then please read our Children’s Teeth, Tell Me About leaflet, available to view here.