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Dental Health in PKU

Do Protein Substitutes Cause Tooth Decay?

A healthy smile is so important! It can help to boost your confidence, keep your breath fresh and make you feel good about yourself.

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Brushing your teeth and visiting the dentist are essential to having a healthy smile. Plaque is a thin, sticky substance that forms on your teeth. Eating and drinking not only feeds you, but also the bacteria in plaque. The bacteria can’t harm you but can harm your teeth and cause holes and tooth decay. Therefore, it is important to remove plaque and bits of food by brushing regularly. Here are some helpful hints and tips to care for your teeth:

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  • Brush teeth regularly, at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste*.
  • Teeth should be brushed for around 2 minutes. There are digital apps you can download for your device that play your favourite music for 2 minutes to help make sure you brush for the right amount of time
  • Teeth should be brushed last thing before bed and on at least one other occasion.
  • Spit out after brushing and don’t rinse. If you rinse, the fluoride won’t work as well.

*Use fluoride toothpaste containing at least 1,350ppm fluoride (check label).


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A healthy diet
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What you eat and drink can have an impact on your teeth. It is important to eat a variety of foods to ensure teeth and gums are healthy. You should always wait 30 minutes following food or drink, including protein substitutes to brush teeth, however if this is not possible, you can rinse your mouth with water. If your protein substitute is consumed as part of a balanced diet and at regular mealtimes, you will not need to take any extra measures to protect your teeth.

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The best snacks for good dental health are raw vegetables and fruits. Some examples include cucumber, tangerines, banana and carrot sticks. Other snack ideas include low protein toast and low protein crackers. There are many exchange free options available, have a look at the NSPKU dietary information booklet for some ideas.

For sugary foods like sweets or drinks, try not to have large amounts or have them very often and particularly not before bed! When you do have them, try to stick to mealtimes. Remember aspartame is a sweetener that is often used in ‘diet’ or sugar free food and drink options, always look out for this on the label as it contains phe. Still water is always the best drink for your teeth.

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A healthy lifestyle
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Make sure you visit the dentist for regular check-ups. Women are entitled to free NHS dental treatment during pregnancy and any treatment commenced before their child’s first birthday. NHS choices can provide further information on who is entitled to free dental care. Eating well, not smoking and limiting your alcohol and sugar intake will all help to look after your teeth!

Make sure you protect your teeth when playing sports, a mouthguard will help protect you against broken and damaged teeth. Speak to your dentist for more information. If you are worried about dental treatment, many dentists offer special treatment for nervous patients – all you have to do is tell them!

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