A WAGGA dental therapist says misinformation about sugary food products could be causing avoidable cases of tooth decay in children.
The proposed shake-up of the federal government's Health Star Rating system could mean sugary breakfast cereals - once deemed to be healthy - drop by almost 2.5 stars.
The possible changes to the system will depend on the ministers' decision to differentiate between naturally occurring sugars and added sugar.
MLHD Oral Health Promotions Officer Jennifer Lang, who is a dental therapist, said parents rely on the federal government's rating system to make quick, healthy choices for their children. She said the changes proposed will reinforce the right products parents should be choosing.
"Parents will see the Milo Bar at four stars and believe that is a good choice, but it can have 25 per cent added sugar. The proposed change will bring it down to a 1.5 star rating, instantly showing parents that it's not a great option," she said.
In a world heavily influenced by advertising, Mrs Lang said the rating system was very important to make healthy decision for children.
"It tends to be bright colours with people they respect like sportspeople choosing particular types of cereal," she said.
"Nutri Grain has four teaspoons of added sugars in one bowl, compare that to Weetbix, which has none. There can be healthy options, but it is a matter of being aware.
"We see fit people having them and that influences parents decisions, so our Health Star Rating system really need to reflect healthy choices."
Mrs Lang said oral health is an area of neglect for families, encouraging parents to start a regular dentist visit that will become a pattern for children to continue into adulthood.
"Some parents feel like they are only baby teeth and they are going to fall out anyway so they don't have to worry. But some of those baby teeth can be there until they are an older teenager," she said.
"They keep the space for the adult teeth and they're really important for the smile factor - healthy teeth means a child can feel more confident about their smile."
In other news:
Mrs Lang also suggested parents look at the types of sugary drinks being offered to their child that could lead to "rampant" tooth decay. She said adults are starting unhealthy habits for the younger generation by giving them sugary drinks such as soft drinks, cordials and juice.
"If water is the only thing offered to a child from a young age then that's the norm for them," she said. "Don't be tempted to sweeten it for them because the child's taste buds are more in tune than ours, so water does taste good.
"Let the child enjoy water as it is and avoid other sugary things when they are older."
But at the end of the day, Mrs Lang said healthy teeth comes down to good eating habits, brushing teeth daily and regular visits to the dentist.
While you're with us, did you know that you can now receive updates straight to you inbox each day at 6am from the Daily Advertiser? To make sure you're up to date with all the Wagga news sign up here.