Brushing teeth can be bad for kids

7th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

7 February 2005 , HAMBURG - Don't rush out to tell your children right now, but brushing teeth can actually be bad for children, at least for those who eat lots of lemony treats, according to research in Germany. The astonishing findings have sent a shock wave through the dental profession in Germany - not to mention the candy industry. It turns out that foodstuffs and candies and drinks high in citric acid are actually worse for children's teeth than are treats high in sugar content. From orange juice and

7 February 2005

HAMBURG - Don't rush out to tell your children right now, but brushing teeth can actually be bad for children, at least for those who eat lots of lemony treats, according to research in Germany.

The astonishing findings have sent a shock wave through the dental profession in Germany - not to mention the candy industry.

It turns out that foodstuffs and candies and drinks high in citric acid are actually worse for children's teeth than are treats high in sugar content.

From orange juice and lemon-flavoured iced tea to citrus fruit drops and lemon meringue pie: All are more damaging to young teeth than sugary chocolaty snacks.

"Citric acid eats away at tooth enamel, especially on young teeth that are still growing," says Baerbel Hoehn, minister for consumer affairs in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Ironically, brushing after eating these sour treats only makes matters worse. And the more brushing, the worse matters become.

"Vigorous brushing has the effect of scouring the citric acid deep into the tooth enamel, making it porous and susceptible to bacterial infection," she adds.

"That means brushing teeth right after eating an orange can actually be bad for a child's teeth," she cautions, "even though oranges are good for you and contain lots of healthy vitamins."

She advises parents to have their children rinse their mouths out first with water or else to drink a big glass of wholesome milk.

"Milk is especially good at neutralising the acid, and everyone knows that milk is good for growing strong and healthy teeth," she notes.

The findings were made in studies of 173 food products high in citric acid.

The startling new findings come amidst a federally spearheaded programme to help make German kids more healthy.

German Consumer Minister Renate Kuenast has launched a drive for diet and exercise programmes for the nation's young people citing figures that one-third of them are overweight.

The plans encompass possible restrictions on advertising and the availability of fast-food snacks and sweets.

In an appeal before the Bundestag parliament, the minister said 34 percent of all children under 14 weigh too much for their size and age, and eight per cent are clinically obese.

Those figures come only days after another survey showed that a third of all German teenagers smoke cigarettes - one of the highest rates in the industrialized world.

"This may be the first generation in German history to die before their elders due to lifestyle-related health problems," said Kuenast.

She was citing figures by the Robert Koch Institute which also show that two-thirds of all adult German men and over half of all women are also overweight.

She envisions a coalition of "volunteer efforts" by the food industry, television advertisers, school administrators and nutritionists to reshape the way young Germans eat.

"We want to promote food products which are healthier and lower in calories," she said. "We need to promote mandatory physical education in the schools, something that schools in recent years have been too lax about."

She has also called for restrictions on advertising snacks and sweets on TV shows catering to young audiences.

DPA

Subject: German news

 

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