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UK Against Fluoridation

Friday, April 06, 2018

Children's teeth rotting in their mouths because of sugary foods, say experts

A child has a rotten tooth pulled out in hospital every 10 minutes, Public HealthEngland (PHE) has said, appealing to parents at the launch of the government’s sugar tax to switch their children’s drinks to mostly milk and water.
Sugar-sweetened soft drinks are the main source of the sugar that children consume. While the levy on high-sugar drinks is a response to the obesity crisis – 20% of children in the last year of primary school in England are now obese – there is huge concern about children’s teeth as well.
Every day, 141 children have teeth extracted in hospital and some are as young as one year old. It is the most common reason for children aged 5 to 9 to be admitted to hospital, causing 60,000 missed days of school each year. Children with decayed teeth suffer pain and problems with eating and sleeping, says PHE. The cost to the NHS is £3.4bn a year.
The sugar levy on the manufacturers of soft drinks will hike the price of a litre of high sugar drink (8g of sugar per 100ml) by 24p. Drinks with 5g per 100ml will go up by 18p a litre – if the manufacturers pass the tax to shoppers. Some companies have replaced sugar with artificial sweeteners and have avoided the tax. Others, like Coca-Cola, have chosen to stick with the recipe for their original brand which will rise in price, while pointing out they offer a zero-sugar version too.
But the tax will solve neither obesity nor tooth decay and PHE is urging parents to change their children’s eating and drinking habits.
“It’s upsetting to see so many children admitted to hospital with tooth decay, but swapping out sugary drinks could be an easy win for busy families,” said Dr Sandra White, dental lead for Public Health England.
“Parents can also help prevent decay by making sure their children’s teeth are brushed twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and reducing the amount of sugar they’re eating and drinking.”
The budget for public health sits with the local authorities. “These shocking figures strengthen the need for urgent investment in oral health education so that parents and children understand the impact of sugar on teeth and the importance of good oral hygiene,” said Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board.
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“Untreated dental care remains one of the most prevalent and preventable diseases affecting children and young people’s ability to speak, eat, play and socialise.”
PHE suggests families should look at the advice on the Change4Life websiteon swapping to low fat milky drinks, water and low sugar drinks. Fruit juice and smoothies should be limited to 150ml a day. They may appear healthy but contain large amounts of natural sugars. Children should brush their teeth twice a day, including before bedtime, using fluoride toothpaste, says PHE.
The introduction of the sugar tax has been applauded by health campaigners. Caroline Cerny, Obesity Health Alliance lead, said it was great news that the levy was in force and that many manufacturers had reduced the sugar levels in their drinks. “We’re all eating more sugar than is recommended and sugary soft drinks contribute to this – particularly in teens where sugary drinks are their top source of sugar. They provide empty calories and contribute not only to rising levels of obesity but also to poor dental health,” she said.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs said: “Obesity can have a devastating impact on our patients’ long-term health and wellbeing, but we are particularly concerned about the increasing rates of obesity in children and young people – this is setting them up for a life plagued with serious health conditions, including increased risks of a range of cancers as well as diabetes and heart disease.” She added that they were working to help GPs have the “incredibly sensitive conversations” with parents about tackling their children’s weight.

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