Do's And Don'ts
More detail of how to apply this advice in a nursery group can be found
on our "How we did it" page.
In order for a Nursery Group or School to be able to register with us as
a "Tooth Friendly Nursery" they must make three "Smile Promises."
The promises are not difficult to follow. It is not about making work for
busy teachers it is more about raising the awareness and making some simple
We do not "check" or "police" nurseries for the smile
promises. Children depend upon their honesty and sincerity to follow Tooth
Refined sugar (sucrose) causes tooth decay.
Jamie Oliver showed us just how much rubbish is put into children's school
meals without our knowledge. The same is true of sugar in processed foods.
Just as a test go to your nearest supermarket and check the packaging to
see how many foods you can find that do not contain sugar. If the packet
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 the only thing we can try and do is to try
and control it.
What can we do?
- Always check the packaging of processed foods. That means everything
from baked beans and breakfast cereal to biscuits and cakes.
- Choose the ones that do not contain sugar or keep the ones that do
to an absolute minimum.
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
more importantly because they are associated with comfort and reward.
They also get addicted to the “high” of the energy rush and
that can cause disruptive behavioural problems. Controlling sugar and
sweets at nursery can help in maintaining order.
What can we do?
- Avoid sweets, toffees and chocolate as far as possible.
- Reward children with fruit or small inexpensive toys. Remember they
are more important as tokens of praise and affection than of sweet treats.
drink and brush
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
Fizzy drinks contain phosphoric acid, carbonic acid and usually sugar,
all of which rot teeth.
Puddings and drinks are usually the last thing that children have as part
of their meals and that makes them more harmful.
What can we do? Make sure that children clean their teeth after
- If children have a sugary pudding make sure that they always eat
a piece of cheese or drink a glass of milk (not milk shake and without
a straw) afterwards. This will help to neutralise the acid.
- Because so many processed foods contain “hidden” sugar
it is best to make sure that children clean their teeth after every
meal. That means cleaning at nursery and at school. Some people say
that teeth can be worn down by cleaning too often and this can be true
- for adults. For children it is more important to get them into
the habit of cleaning their teeth after every meal.
- Chose fruit instead of sweets and biscuits for mid morning or mid
afternoon snacks. It is the continual snacking on sugar and sweets which
is most harmful to their teeth.
- Keep sweets out of party bags. Children tend to snack on them all
the way home. Not only is that harmful to their teeth but it spoils
their appetite before a more nutritious evening meal. Badges, stickers
and inexpensive puzzles and games are more fun.
- Children tend to copy one another, especially the younger ones copying
the older ones, and that includes healthy eating and tooth brushing.
Once the good habits are in place they can be self perpetuating.
If you want to register your own nursery, read the Smile Promises and
include them in your own good practice. Remember these are lifestyle
choices they are not just part of a one week smile promotion
or health awareness day.
All it takes is a little thought and a willingness to prevent children
from suffering from toothache.