Healthy Habits

There are a number of healthy habits to establish early in order to prevent decay:

  • Keep snacks to a minimum and try to limit food intake to main meals.
  • Establish a routine for snacking. When you leave home take "safe snacks" with you, ones you have prepared yourself, to avoid giving in when you are out and buying convenience foods high in sugar. Encourage eating before leaving home to reduce cravings when away.
  • Encourage transition to a cup as early as possible, and wean off the bottle preferably by 12 months of age. Offer drinks in a cup not a bottle or "pop top" when it contains sweetened liquids. Do not take a bottle to bed.
  • Water or plain milk between meals. Leave cordial, juices and flavoured milks to main meals.
  • Plenty of dairy for snacks (cheese, milk, yoghurt). Natural products are better than chocolate or other sweetened products.
  • Fresh is best. Plenty of fresh fruit, vegies. Leave dried fruits for main meals (eg. in cereal). Avoid so-called healthy fruit bars, muesli bars, dried fruits as snacks etc… as they contain highly concentrated simple sugars and are also 'stick' to teeth.
  • Starchy biscuits are better for snacks than sweetened ones. Put on some ham, cheese, tomato for a great tooth-friendly snack.
  • Limit sweets or treats to once a week, not every day.
  • If your child has a "sweet tooth", rather than packing sweets such as muffins, cakes, biscuits in the daily lunch box, offer these things after school where there is less time for these substances to be on the teeth, and likely to be followed up with tooth brushing immediately afterwards.


Flossing removes food and plaque (bacteria) from between the teeth. Children younger than 8 – 10 years of age generally cannot floss so a parent you will need to do this if there are no "gaps" or spaces between the teeth, especially the back molar teeth which are used for chewing and which are therefore more likely to trap food and plaque.