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Sugar tax no silver bullet when it comes to oral health

In a recent speech delivered at the annual conference of the Irish Dental Association (IDA) in Galway, Dr Anne Twomey said that Ireland's youth were in the grip of a dental health crisis,

She cited several studies, which reveal that up to half of all Irish 12 year olds, and three quarters of all 15 year olds are already displaying signs of decay in their permanent teeth - a factor which most dentists attribute to a combination of poor oral hygiene and the consumption of sugary drinks and snacks.

Speaking to delegates at the conference, she said:

"There is overwhelming evidence that sugars in food and beverages are the main dietary causes of tooth decay and erosion in children and adults. In addition to dental decay, people who consume excess sugar suffer higher rates of heart disease and diabetes."

Young people in Ireland are currently the biggest consumers of fizzy drinks per capita of any country in the western world, making the issue one of particular concern for parents and public dental health professionals.

However, despite public campaigns to introduce a sugar tax in a bid to improve the situation, she said that the consensus amongst dentists is this approach is too simplistic and will not actually solve the problem, asserting that, "the focus here should be on encouraging people to reduce the frequency and volume of high sugar content drinks and food they consume, not on how much they are paying for these products."

Instead, she said that the IDA felt that more should be done to improve public awareness about the effects of sugar on dental health, including the introduction of better labelling on foods. For instance, many people do not realise that fruit juice can contain as many natural sugars as their more artificial counterparts, which, in turn, can be just as erosive on tooth enamel.

Guiney Dental is a Cork dentist that has a great deal of experience in dealing with children. Having spent many years working with young patients, we understand the trials and tribulations of trying to encourage your child to brush regularly and are always happy to offer our support and advice on your children's oral health.

For more tips and advice on how to get your children brushing regularly,
visit www.guineydental.ie/latest-dental-news-and-articles.php.

 

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