Sack the sugar
Beat the sweets
Let’s get brushing

In order for any nursery or pre-school setting to register with Stop the Rot they must agree to make these three “smile promises”. That way parents can search the web site to find their nearest tooth friendly settings.

Sack the sugar

Refined sugar (sucrose) causes tooth decay and the trouble is that it is used so much in food and drinks. Quite often if food and drinks packaging says “carbohydrates” then the chances are it contains sucrose. When we rely so much on processed foods it is virtually impossible to totally avoid refined sugar

So what can we do?

  1. Try and control the amount of sugar we eat and drink.

  2. Always check the packaging of processed foods. That means everything from baked beans and breakfast cereals to biscuits and cakes.

  3. Choose the ones that do not contain sugar or keep the ones that do to an absolute minimum.

Beat the sweets

The most damaging type of sugar is the sticky kind which stays in the mouth the longest. Sticky sugar is commonly found in sweets and toffees. Children become addicted to sweets not just because they taste sweet but also because they are associated with comfort and reward. They also get addicted to the “high” of the energy rush that can cause disruptive behavioural problems. Controlling sugar and sweets at nursery can help in maintaining order.

So what can we do?

  1. Avoid sweets, toffees, and chocolate as far as possible. Fizzy drinks contain phosphoric, carbonic acid and usually sugar all of which rot teeth.

  2. Reward children with inexpensive stickers or toys. Remember they are more important as tokens of praise and affection rather than sweet treats.

  3. Choose fruit instead of sweets and biscuits for mid morning or mid afternoon snacks. It is the continual snacking on sugar and sweets that is most harmful to teeth.

  4. Keep sweets out of party bags. Children tend to snack on them all the way home this is not just bad for their teeth it spoils their appetite for a more nutritious evening meal. Badges, stickers and inexpensive puzzles and games are much more fun. Ask children’s party entertainers to swap these for sweets as well.

  5. As long as we do not use them in place of nutritional food, puddings and ice creams that contain sugar can be a pleasant second course to a meal. After a sugary pudding make sure that children eat a piece of cheese or drink a glass of milk (not milk shake and without a straw). This can help to neutralise the acid caused by the sugar.

Let’s get brushing.

The earlier good brushing habits can be put in place the better. Not all nurseries and pre-school settings are ideal for tooth brushing but if we can teach children the importance of brushing for 2 minutes, twice a day, they are more likely to carry on as they get older.

So what can we do?

  1. Brushing morning and night is key, but also try and make arrangements so that children can brush their teeth once a day at nursery. Remember to wait 30 minutes after food and drink before letting the children brush. Tooth enamel is soft during this period and can be worn away by brushing.
  1. Try and arrange for children to be taught how to brush their teeth.

The following sequence of photographs are of genuine nursery children following the “smile promises”.

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