How giving your children five-a-day can actually damage their teeth

|

UPDATED:

01:52 GMT, 12 March 2012

Children who are
encouraged to drink large amounts of fruit juice as part of their 'five a
day' could be damaging their teeth, dentists have warned.

They
are concerned that health- conscious parents who regularly give their
children juices and smoothies bursting with fruit could be doing
long-term damage.

Kathy
Harley, dean of the dental faculty at the Royal College of Surgeons,
warned that half of five-year-olds had signs of wear to their tooth
enamel.

Acidic: Juices attack tooth enamel. It is worse when fruit has been blended or juices because that releases the sugars

Acidic: Juices attack tooth enamel. It is worse when fruit has been blended or juices because that releases the sugars

She has called on schools to offer milk or water to pupils during breaks instead of fruit juice, which has a high acid content.

Dental
erosion, which is irreversible, is caused by acid attacking the surface
of teeth – and citrus fruit juices in particular are very acidic.

While
fruit juices contain a range of vitamins that are good for your health,
they are also often high in natural sugars, which cause tooth decay.

Miss
Harley suggested parents should give their children fruit juice as a
treat once a week, for example on Saturdays. The NHS recommends only one
150ml glass of fruit juice per day, which counts as one of the
recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables.

It suggests people drink the juice with a meal as this can help to reduce damage to the teeth.

Drinking
more than one glass of juice a day does not count as more than one
portion of fruit, as it does not contain the fibre found in the whole
fruit.

Dentists have warned parents could be damaging their children's teeth by feeding them fruit drinks

Dentists have warned parents could be damaging their children's teeth by feeding them fruit drinks

Juicing or blending fruit releases the sugars inside and is worse for the teeth if drunk frequently.

Some researchers also say drinking juice slowly can cause more damage to teeth.

Dentists
have previously warned that, while tooth decay is less common as more
children and adults brush their teeth regularly than in the past, dental
erosion is a growing problem due to acidic drinks.

Research
published last year by King's College London Dental Institute, based on
a study of 1,000 people aged between 18 and 30, suggested eating an
apple could be worse for teeth than drinking a fizzy drink because of
the acid it contains.

Experts
recommend people continue to eat fruit but drink water afterwards to
wash away the acid or eat something containing calcium, such as cheese,
which neutralises acid.

Damien
Walmsley, an adviser to the British Dental Association said: 'If you
are having fruit, keep it to meal times. That [may] go against the
[recommendation of] five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, but it
is not a good idea snacking on it because of the continual drip, drip on
to the tooth.'

The
Department of Health said it had no plans to remove fruit juice from the
five-a-day. A spokesman said: 'It contains nutrients, including
vitamins which are important as part of a healthy, balanced diet.'