25 March 2016

Leading health charity, the British Dental Health Foundation, are calling for better awareness of the dangers hidden sugars in our diets have on our oral health.

This follows publication of the new Eatwell Guide by Public Health England (PHE) that has highlighted the dangers hidden sugars in fruit juices and smoothies pose to our oral health.

Recommendations in the guide have been altered to advise limiting the consumption of drinks such as fruit juices and smoothies to 150mls per day.

The charity has welcomed this move and sees it as an important step in increasing awareness of apparently ‘healthy' options containing dangerous levels of sugar.

Dentist Dr Ben Atkins, Trustee of the British Dental Health Foundation, commented on the new guide.

Dr Atkins said: "There is a real problem in getting everyone to recognise when there are hidden sugars in food or drink which people perceive to be "healthy"; especially in things like smoothies and fruit juices which are currently very fashionable.

"Many of us are just not aware of the very high levels of sugar in some of these and that is a huge problem when it comes to our oral health.

"Sugar causes teeth to decay as it reacts with the bacteria on the tooth, forming acid which attaches the tooth surface. Tooth decay almost always leads to dentist intervention and the tooth needing to be filled or even taken out.

"People are often surprised when they continue to have problems even when they follow recommendations to brush for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, but this is due to the hidden sugars in their diet, such as in apparently ‘healthy' drinks and snacks.

"All health professionals need to provide consistent and accurate information to consumers about the dangers of hidden sugars for many areas of our health, including those which address obesity and diabetes.

"PHE has taken a valuable step in highlighting parts of the diet which we may have been unaware of as contributing to poor oral health. I am calling on all of us to make sure we read the labels of our foods and drinks carefully to see exactly how much sugar we are consuming."

The new Eatwell Guide indicates the revised proportions of the food groups that help us meet official advice and nutrient requirements and follows new sugar recommendations outlined in 2015 by the PHE. These call for us to reduce our intake of free sugars to no more than 5% of our daily energy intake.

President of the British Society on Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT), Michaela ONeill, added: "We have recently seen the government introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks but there is a failure of this to cover pure fruit juices, some of which have higher levels of sugar than soft drinks.

"PHE have recognised the dangers of these hidden sugars pose to our oral health and we hope their advice is heeded by the public.

"In the last year alone more than 33,000 children were admitted to hospital for tooth extractions under general anaesthetic, this is absolutely appalling and we hope that by understanding more about what we are consuming we can start to reverse this terrible statistic."

The Eatwell Guide also includes a new hydration section which promotes water, milk, sugar free drinks, tea and coffee and safe and effective ways to stay hydrated while reducing the risk to health.