Why does healthy eating matter?

Your general health and your resistance to many diseases depend a lot on eating a healthy, balanced diet. Your eating and drinking habits also affect the health of your teeth. Dental plaque is soft, sticky substance that builds up on your teeth. It is mostly made up of bacteria, which feed on sugar from food and drink, producing acids as a waste product. The acids attack the teeth by dissolving the minerals in the tooth surface. If this happens too often, tooth decay results.

Acids in food and drink can dissolve away tooth surface. All fizzy drinks (including ‘diet’ brands and fizzy mineral water, all squashes and all fruit juices are acidic to varying degrees. Pickles and citrus fruits are examples of acidic type of foods.


Most dental problems can be avoided if you:
  • Remove plaque by brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste; and
  • Don’t have sugary and/or acidic food and drink too often during the day.  Try to have these mostly at mealtimes, not in between.  Limit consumption of foods and drinks with added sugars to a maximum of four times a day.
  • Chewing sugar-free gum can also help, as this increases the flow of saliva, which helps teeth to repair themselves.

    Most sugars in the diet are contained in processed and manufactured foods and drinks.

Potentially cariogenic (causing tooth decay) foods and drinks include:

  • Sugar and chocolate confectionary
  • Cakes and biscuits
  • Buns, pastries, fruit pies
  • Sponge puddings and other puddings
  • Table sugar
  • Sugared breakfast cereals
  • Jams, preserves, honey
  • Ice cream
  • Fruit in syrup
  • Fresh fruit juices
  • Sugared soft drinks
  • Sugared, milk-based beverages
  • Sugar-containing alcoholic drinks
  • Dried fruits
  • Syrups and sweet sauces

It is important to recognise that honey, fresh fruit juice and dried fruit all contain cariogenic sugars.

Helpful websites: (specific for children and infants)