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Certain food habits matter when it comes to the formation of cavities in young mouths. Think before you reach for that sugary snack at home to placate your child.

Frequent snacking on foods high in sugar increases the amount of time your teeth are exposed to the dissolving effects of various acids, which cause tooth decay.

The most common source of liquid sugar is sugary soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and juice. In addition to sugar, these drinks have high levels of acids that can cause tooth decay.

If your child constantly sips sugary drinks throughout the day, it’s time to rethink that habit. The amount of prolonged exposure to sugar increases the risk of tooth decay and gives the harmful bacteria more opportunity to do damage.

“Sticky foods” are those that provide long-lasting sources of sugar, such as hard sweets, breath mints and lollipops. These are also linked to tooth decay because you retain these foods in your mouth for longer, and the sugars are gradually released. This gives the harmful bacteria in your mouth plenty of time to digest the sugar and produce more acid.

Whenever you eat or drink anything sugary, the bacteria inside your mouth work to break it down. However, they produce acid in the process. Acid destroys the tooth enamel, which results in tooth decay over time.

To fight this, keep your child’s intake of high-sugar foods and beverages to a minimum – especially between meals and before bedtime.

Taking good care of your child’s teeth and teaching them to practise healthy food and drink choices are the best ways to win the battle against tooth decay.