Snacking habits are strongly linked with dental decay in preschool children

Paediatric dentistry

Tooth brushing prevents dental decay

The study looked at nearly 4,000 preschool children in Scotland, UK and discovered that snacking habits are the behaviour most strongly associated with dental decay.

Researchers found under-five’s who snack throughout the day, compared to eating just at meal times, are far more likely to have signs of dental decay and that relying on tooth brushing alone to prevent it is not enough.

Tooth brushing alone is not enough to protect children from tooth decay caused by snacking on sugary foods and drink.

The lessons from this study are

  1. Tooth brushing – once or twice a day or more – reduced the chance of dental decay compared with less frequent brushing.


  1. Parents should ensure that children’s snacking should be limited to no more than two a day and unhealthy sugary snacks should be replaced with healthier foods such as fruit and vegetables.


  1. Even though child’s first set of teeth is temporary, the oral health behaviour children learn early on, they take into the rest of their lives, so it is vital that they get into good habits as early as possible.


  1. V Skafida, S Chambers; Positive association between sugar consumption and dental decay prevalence independent of oral hygiene in pre-school children: a longitudinal prospective study, Journal of Public Health

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