How bad is chocolate for my children’s teeth? We have some ‘egg-cellent’ advice for you!
With Easter just around the corner the shop shelves are stocked to the rafters with enticing chocolate eggs.
But should we be worried about the amount of chocolate that children eat at Easter? And does all the sugar affect their teeth? In this post, we’ll be answering these questions. We’ll also give you tips on how to protect your children’s teeth this Easter.
How does chocolate and sugar affect teeth?
Most chocolates contain a large amount of sugar, sometimes more then half their total weight. When chocolate is eaten the sugar causes bacteria in plaque to produce acid. This acid causes tooth enamel to dissolve slowly leading to holes or cavities in teeth (tooth decay or dental caries). Thus the more sugar that is consumed the more tooth decay that can occur.
So how much chocolate can kids eat?
According to the NHS Better Health website, children aged 4 to 6 years old are allowed a maximum recommended daily sugar intake of 5 sugar cubes or 19g. For 7 to 10 year old children the maximum recommended sugar intake is 6 cubes or 24g. For 11 and older the maximum recommended sugar intake is 30g or 7 cubes.
So the question you want answering is how many Easter eggs is this equal to?
A typical milk chocolate easter egg weighing 128g contains a surprising 56g of sugar. Therefore eating the whole egg in one day will greatly exceed the maximum recommended sugar intake for all groups.
Reading the advice, the intake of chocolate and sugar overall needs to carefully checked. A child could receive several chocolate eggs from friends and family, the average is 4 per child!
What can we do during Easter and beyond to protect children’s teeth?
1. Reducing the frequency that chocolate and sweets are consumed
It is better to eat chocolate at one time in the day rather than ‘grazing’ throughout the day. This prevents sugar coating the teeth over a prolonged period of time which is more damaging. Instead, after a meal would be a good time to eat the chocolate.
2. Have less chocolate
Reducing the amount of chocolate the children have will mean less damage to their teeth. This can be done by reducing the size and the number of chocolate eggs kids have. You could also compare the amount of sugar that’s in the eggs which will be stated on the packaging. There are also some useful apps such as the NHS Food Scanner which is not only great fun for kids to use, but also shows how much sugar each food item contains.
3. Alternatives to chocolate
It is natural that we can feel guilty in limiting the amount and number of chocolate eggs our children receive. But we would be doing this for the benefit of their teeth and their health in general. To make up for this you could do other easter activities such as making a treasure hunt and painting easter egg crafts for example.
4. Keep up with good brushing habits
Good brushing removes the bacteria containing plaque which causes tooth decay. We recommend children use a suitable fluoride toothpaste, and brush for 2 minutes day and night. Visual aids like disclosing tablets are a great way to motivate kids with brushing (although you may end up with a pink bathroom!)
Reducing the amount and frequency of chocolate eating can help protect teeth from tooth decay. This is true for Easter and also true all year round.