7 December 2015

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.

Christmas has well and truly taken hold in stores across the country and this time of year can be difficult for parents as pester power from children ramps up a few notches.

But, 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 last 12 months - and is the single biggest reason for having to have general anaesthetics.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, commented, "It is good to see parents recognising the definite need to limit children's sugar intake.

"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.

"With Christmas rapidly approaching we want to make sure that everyone is aware of the amount of sugar we consume and try to avoid having too much of it in our diet, this will not only benefit our dental health but have a positive impact on many other aspects of our overall health."

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," added Dr Carter.

"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.

"Thankfully it is very easy to reduce the effect sugar has on our oral health.

"Ensuring that we brush your teeth last thing at night and at least one other time during the day with fluoride toothpaste is the first step in combating tooth decay, visiting our dentist regularly will allow us to stay on top of any potential problems too."