Tooth decay is Australia’s most common health problem. It happens when germs (bacteria) in your mouth convert sugars into acid. Over time acid weakens the tooth surface, causing decay. The good news is that tooth decay can be avoided.
How often you have sugary food and drinks is important
Every time you have something sweet to eat or drink, acid is produced in the mouth
It takes about 20 to 30 minutes for saliva to neutralise the acid
If you snack often, the time acid is in contact with your teeth increases – and so does the risk of tooth decay.
Sugar (a rose by any other name...)
On food or drink labels, sugar may be listed as:
White sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, icing sugar, corn syrup, castor sugar, treacle, golden syrup, chocolate, honey, glucose, molasses, sucrose, fructose, lactose and maltose
Fruit and fruit juice contain natural sugar which can damage the tooth surface if you have them often
Food may have no ‘added’ sugar but may still be high in natural sugar, so check the label
Sticky foods, like dried fruit and muesli bars, can stick to your teeth and make the acid attack last longer.
Plain tap water is best for teeth
Sports drinks, energy drinks and soft drinks can damage teeth because they are high in sugar and acid
Diet soft drinks and cordial are often very acidic and can damage teeth
Bottled water contains little or no fluoride but is much better than sugary and acidic drinks as it contains no sugar or acid.
To avoid tooth decay
Drink plain tap water
Breast milk is best for babies. If your baby is bottle fed, don’t put them to bed with a bottle as this greatly increases the risk of tooth decay
Limit the number of times a day you have sugary food and drinks
Replace high sugar foods with healthier choices, such as fresh fruits, raw vegetables, nuts, crackers and reduced fat dairy foods (reduced fat milks are not suitable for children under the age of 2 years)
Clean your teeth and gums morning and night with a small, soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
Children should use a low- fluoride toothpaste from 18 months to 5 years
Children will need an adult to help them brush every day until they are 8 years
Chew sugar free gum to increase saliva, as this helps to dilute acid in the mouth.
Use of the information and data contained within this site or these pages is at your sole risk.
If you rely on the information on this site you are responsible for ensuring by independent verification its accuracy, currency or completeness.
This site includes links to other websites operated by community, business and government.
These linked websites will have their own terms and conditions of use and you should familiarise yourself with these.
All linked websites are linked 'as is' and the Government of South Australia:
does not sponsor, endorse or necessarily approve of any material on websites linked from or to this Site;
does not make any warranties or representations regarding the quality, accuracy, merchantability or fitness for purpose of any material on websites linked from or to this Site;
does not make any warranties or representations that material on other websites to which this site is linked does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any person anywhere in the world; and
does not authorise the infringement of any intellectual property rights contained in material in other websites by linking this site to those other websites.
If you use automatic language translation services in connection with this site you do so at your own risk.
The information and data on this site is subject to change without notice. The Government of South Australia may revise this disclaimer at any time by updating this posting.
The Government of South Australia, its agents, instrumentalities, officers and employees:
make no representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy of the information and data contained on this site
make no representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy or usefulness of any translation of the information on this site or any linked website into another language
make no representations as to the availability of the site and the availability of websites linked from or to the site
accept no liability however arising for any loss resulting from the use of the site and any information and data or reliance placed on it (including translated information and data)
make no representations, either expressed or implied, as to the suitability of the said information and data for any particular purpose
accepts no liability for any interference with or damage to a user's computer, software or data occurring in connection with or relating to this Site or its use or any website linked to this site
do not represent or warrant that applications or payments initiated through this site will in fact be received or made to the intended recipient. Users are advised to confirm the application or payment by other means.