Life

Ask the Dentist: Parents taking a stand against sugar

Dentist Lucy Stock of Gentle Dental Care in Belfast says parents are fighting back against childhood tooth decay

Gummy bears taste good but they're bad for little ones' teeth

PARENTS are leading the way in the fight against increasing childhood tooth decay with almost half of them showing their support for sugar-free treats.

According to an online poll by the British Dental Health Foundation, parents are fighting back, with almost half of those surveyed saying they had would prefer to give their children sugar-free sweets as a healthier alternative.

This decisive action could be in response to statistics revealed earlier in the year which showed 26,000 primary school aged children were admitted to hospital due to tooth decay in the past 12 months – and is the single biggest reason for having to have general anaesthetics.

"It is good to see parents recognising the definite need to limit children's sugar intake," British Dental Health Foundation chief executive Nigel Carter said.

"Sugar-free sweets are a great way for us to soothe our children's sweet tooth without risking their dental health. We would also advise whole fruits, as opposed to dried fruit which can be as damaging as sweets, as a great source of natural sugar and which also provide many essential vitamins and minerals.”

Tooth decay happens when sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque. This forms the acids that attack the teeth and destroy the enamel. After this happens many times, the tooth enamel may break down, forming a hole or 'cavity'. Tooth decay almost always leads to fillings and can even lead to teeth having to be removed.

Early tooth decay can have no obvious symptoms but your dental team may be able to spot a cavity in its early stages when they examine your teeth. This is why you and your family should visit your dental team regularly, as small cavities are much easier to treat than advanced decay.

"We need to also be aware of hidden sugars in our food and drink, make sure that you check the ingredients closely," Dr Carter said.

"There are extremely high levels of added sugar in some foods and soft drinks, things like cereals with added sugars and smoothies that we might consider healthy, are not so kind to our teeth. It's great to see that parents are taking a proactive roll in helping their children enjoy the benefits of healthy, comfortable teeth.”

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