Dietary advice to prevent dental decay

We recommend the following to help prevent dental decay:

  • The frequency and amount of sugars should be reduced. Eating sugary foods should be restricted to mealtimes.
  • Limit eating food and drinks with added sugars to a maximum of four times a day.
  • Sugars (excluding those naturally present in whole fruit) should provide less than 10% of total energy in the diet or less than 60g per person per day. Note that for young children this will be around 33g per day.

Did you know that most sugars in the diet are contained in processed and manufactured foods and drinks? Foods which can cause tooth decay include:

  • sugar and chocolate confectionery
  • 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
  • some yoghurts

It is important to recognise that honey, fresh fruit juice and dried fruit all contain sugars which can cause tooth decay.

Safe snacks include:

  • cheese
  • raw vegetables
  • rice cakes
  • nuts
  • breadsticks, savoury crackers
  • bread, pitta bread
  • humous
  • plain yoghurt, fromage frais

Safe drinks include:

  • water
  • milk
  • diluted sugar free squash (1 part cordial to 10 parts water)

Check food labels:

  • look for ‘hidden sugars’, particularly in prepared meals.
  • ‘no added sugar’ means only that no extra sugar has been added and is not the same as sugar free


  • sugary or acid drinks or foods close to bedtime