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Teeth in unsuspected early morning peril

Monday, 23 Apr 2012 12:00

Millions of unsuspecting Brits are endangering their oral health through poor choices at breakfast.

From hidden sugars in cereals to high levels of added sugar in fruit juices, oral health charity the British Dental Health Foundation believe breakfast is quickly becoming the unhealthiest meal of the day.

Although experts believe breakfast is the most important meal of the day, a series of recent findings highlight the hidden dangers many of us face when approaching the breakfast table.

Research group Which? discovered 12 out of 14 cereals2 we know and love contain worryingly high levels of sugar, meaning many would be better off on the cake and biscuit aisle than with the cereals. Even cereals perceived as healthy are somewhat contradictory, also containing high levels of sugar.

It isn't only cereals the population are in the dark about. New research presented by the University of Glasgow suggests people in the UK are significantly misjudging the amount of sugar in some breakfast juices, particularly those perceived as healthy3, most notably pomegranate and pure apple juice.

The perils of breakfast aren't confined to hidden dangers. Industry analysts Mintel have recently identified sales of chocolate spreads have overtaken marmalade4, with some analysts suggesting busy parents looking to satisfy fussy eaters as a possible reason behind the sudden boom.

Around one in three children starting primary school do so with signs of tooth decay, with poor breakfast habits a possible reason for the figure.
Of real concern to the Foundation is the potential for an erosion explosion in children's teeth. Fruit does contain acids, which can erode your teeth.

However, this is only damaging to your teeth if you eat an unusually large amount. Fruit juices are becoming increasingly popular and the fruit content can make them seem like a good idea. However, they contain very high levels of sugar and acid and so can do a lot of damage to the teeth.

Chief Executive of the Foundation Dr Nigel Carter said: "Tooth decay is a growing problem, and it is important that acid erosion does not follow suit. Figures suggest not enough adults or children are keeping to basic rules of oral hygiene, a practice that can help to reduce and even keep dental problems at bay.

"It would help enormously if parents could encourage children to move away from breakfast cereals loaded with sugars and introduce them to healthier alternatives such as porridge or boiled egg with wholemeal bread.

It may be an easy solution to give children something sweet to appease them, but by keeping the consumption of sugary foods to a minimum, the benefits to oral health will have a lasting impact.

"If the Foundation's three key messages - brush for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, cutting down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks and visit the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend - are followed, they can form the basis of a good oral hygiene routine for children to develop as they get older."


Editor's notes

1. For further information on how diet can affect oral health, visit our Tell Me About Diet leaflet.

2. Source.

3. Source.

4. Source.

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