It used to be sweets and sugary cakes that were the bad guys when it came to tooth decay. But now, dentists are warning that fruit juice and smoothies could be doing serious damage to the health of your children's teeth.
Dentists at the Royal College of Surgeons are concerned that parents are giving children fruit juice as part of their 5-a-day fruit and veg regime, mistakenly believing it's a healthy option.
Yet the high levels of acid and sugar in fruit juices and smoothies attack tooth enamel and can do serious harm to our kids' teeth.
Although whole fruit contains natural sugar, it's when the fruit is pulped and blended that it becomes a lot more harmful to teeth, due to the juicing process releasing more sugar.
"Every time you sip on a fruit smoothie your teeth are placed under acid attack for up to an hour," explains Dr Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation. "Constantly sipping on these drinks can cause the protective enamel to erode and can also lead to decay."
Kathy Harley, Dean of the Dental Faculty at the Royal College of Surgeons, warned today that half of all 5-year-olds have signs of wear to their tooth enamel.
Her recommendations include:
- schools to offer milk or water to pupils during breaks instead of fruit juice
- parents should give their children fruit juice just once a week as a treat
The NHS recommends drinking only one 150ml glass of fruit juice per day, which counts as one of the recommended portions of fruit and veg. Drinking more than one glass of juice a day doesn’t count as more than one portion of fruit because it doesn’t contain the fibre found in a whole fruit. The Department of Health said it currently has no plans to remove fruit juice from its 5-a-day recommendations.
So if you are going to give your child fruit juice, follow these top tips to protect their teeth:
- only give fruit juice with a meal, as this significantly reduces the damaging effect
- when buying fruit juice, always choose one that contains no added sugar
- encourage your child to mostly drink water, with fruit juice as an occasional treat
- pop a bottle of water in your child's lunchbox rather than a daily fruit juice
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