Ask the Dentist: Belfast tops poll of cities with the sweetest tooth

Dentist Lucy Stock of Gentle Dental Care in Belfast says being number one in this poll is nothing to be proud of

Enjoy your wee tray bakes?

BELFAST has topped a sweetest tooth list, with more than four in five (83 per cent) of residents consuming portions of cake and biscuits every day. Norwich and Liverpool came next, with nearly three in four (74 per cent) treating themselves daily. This may explain why Belfast and Liverpool have some of the highest levels of tooth decay in the UK.

On average, more than six out of 10 (61 per cent) people consume cake or biscuits every day. The NHS advises that added sugars should not make up more than 5 per cent of total calorie intake, about 30g of sugar a day.

Having said that, just stating that we shouldn't take more than 30g of sugar a day is not very clear. Just how much is this? Maybe an easier way to think about it is to look at how the sugar affects you personally. For example, if even one of your teeth is decayed then on the whole this is a signal that you are eating too much sugar.

It may not be the quantity of sugar but rather how often you are having it. So, say someone takes one sugar in their tea. Often people consider this as a small amount of sugar. However, if the same person is having five cups of tea a day then the teeth are bathed in sugar all day and they will rot away. It's common that sugary drinks are interspersed with sugary snacks, exaggerating the drip-drip intake of sugar throughout the day.

If you are fed up with needing fillings all the time, teeth extracted, crowns coming out due to underlying decay or suffering from toothache, then take charge of your mouth. Your diet plays a massive part in the stability, health, comfort and appearance of your mouth. Try writing down what sugary foods and drinks you take. Knowing your starting point is invaluable when trying to change your eating habits.

When thinking about what you drink, bear in mind that everything apart from water, milk and sugarless tea and coffee has sugar in it. This can surprise people as they believe that sugar free, diet drinks and fruit juices are good for the teeth.

If you take sugar in hot drinks, add it to cereal, or take it in foods, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether. The less often you eat sugar in all its disguises the better your health will be.

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