Snacking and Children’s Tooth Decay

The rate of tooth decay in children is high and currently exists as one of the most common childhood diseases in Australia. Although there are many factors associated with tooth decay, dietary practices prove to be a major component of its development.

Foods containing sugars (natural and/or artificial) are of greatest risk of causing decay. Importantly, however, it is the frequency and duration of consumption of these foods that is highly related to the level of decay activity.

Repeated snacking and grazing on food/drink throughout the day increases the risk for developing decay in two ways:

  1. Causes repetitive acid production leading to decay
  2. Reduces protective mechanisms in the mouth

Decay progresses much faster in the primary (milk) teeth compared to the adult teeth, which puts children at a high risk and relates to rapid rates seen among children. Although your child will lose their milk teeth, it is incredibly important to prevent decay in primary teeth because children with decay in the primary teeth are at significantly higher risk for decay in the permanent (adult) dentition.

If you think your child may be eating quite frequently, start by keeping a diet/diary analysis, which may help to identify any risk behaviours. For further information and advice about children’s dental health, tips on how to prevent decay, or a check up, book an appointment with Pro Dental SA.

Alba Tessitore, Oral Health Therapist