Why children's teeth need eggstra special care over Easter

While Easter is an exciting time for children, with Easter egg hunts and their sugary prizes, what are the risks to young teeth? Could the onslaught of excessive amounts of sugar pose a real threat of tooth decay? Dentist Jonathan Pimley, has some advice for parents and grandparents that will help remove the guilt without spoiling the fun.

He says:

The trick is to encourage children to eat their sweet treats at the end of a meal, rather than nibbling constantly throughout the day. It is the number of times you eat sugar, not how much you eat that causes problems for teeth.

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After eating sugar, teeth are under attack for up to an hour from acid produced by plaque bacteria in our mouths. By reducing the number of sugar attacks throughout the day, we reduce the chances of decay. This is really important over Easter when children eat more sugary foods than normal.

The challenge for parents and grandparents is to balance their diet by giving them the food they love while looking after their teeth and the Easter holidays are a good time to check that children really are being thorough with tooth brushing.

Teeth should be brushed twice a day for two minutes, which can seem like a long time to a child, or an adult! An egg-timer in the bathroom can help to ensure that sufficient time is spent to really clean teeth thoroughly – special novelty tooth timers are available and can help pass those crucial two minutes.

A few sensible steps mean children can still enjoy their Easter treats without running undue risk of damage to their smiles. One of the many advantages of having a healthy mouth is being able to enjoy the foods you like eating – just don't count the calories.

Top tooth tips for Easter:

No snacking. Eat treats at the end of a meal.

There's no substitute for regular brushing – two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste will keep your teeth as good as when you got them.

Cheese is a great way to finish off a meal as it neutralises the acid levels in the mouth which attack/soften the enamel.

Supervise children's brushing up until around the age of seven to 10 years.

Ensure children visit a dentist regularly for check-ups.

Jonathan Pimley is a dentist at Harrogate's Clover House Dental Practice, www.cloverhouse.co.uk