With Easter just a few hops away, it’s worth reminding families that there are lots of creative ways to reduce the sugar hit from chocolate eggs and other sugary treats.
Over a quarter of children aged five to ten have untreated tooth decay, but parents trying to curb their children’s sugar intake face a steep task over Easter. While chocolate eggs are intrinsic to Easter celebrations, why not supplement the gift-giving this long weekend with a small toy?
With adults also indulging in more than their fair share, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) is urging parents to cut back on their own consumption of chocolate eggs and practice good dental health.
“To ensure everyone’s teeth aren’t harmed by too much sugar over Easter, we urge families to follow a few simple guidelines,” said Dr Mihiri Silva from the ADA’s Oral Health Committee.
*Restrict chocolate eggs and sugary treats to mealtimes rather than snacking on them between meals, to reduce the time teeth are exposed to acid attacks.
*Have some small toys and inedible treats to hand out over the long weekend so the kids don’t feel they’ve missed out. A skipping rope, frisbee or bat and ball set will encourage movement. Easter themed art and craft activities, pyjamas and clothing also make great gifts.
*Using decorative wooden or paper eggs instead of chocolate can still give the thrill of the Easter Egg hunt – with maybe just one egg at the end to celebrate.
*Have a sugar break before and again in the week following Easter, to offset the sugar hits.
*Give sugar-laden snacks labelled ‘healthy’ a miss – including dried fruit, muesli bars, breakfast cereals, flavoured milk and fruit yoghurt.
The statistics surrounding kids and tooth decay are surprising: over 26,000 children aged 14 and under were admitted to hospital from 2016 to 2017, for dental conditions that were preventable, according to recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data.
Meanwhile almost 42 per cent of children aged 5-10 have had decay in their baby teeth and the figures are higher for Indigenous children and those from low incomed households or living in rural and remote areas.
Dr Silva added: “While Easter is about enjoying a few treats, teaching children lessons about tooth decay prevention, healthy eating and regular brushing are year-round messages.”