The problems with sugar

The problem with sugar is that it tastes so good and so many people like it.

If it tasted like Brussels sprouts it could, like them, be restricted to Christmas.

But it doesn't and it comes in many manifestations from white crystalline, to sweets, chocolates and soft drinks.

Dentists are thus doomed to be presented as kill-joys, to add to all the other prejudices that the people have against our profession, when we advise against its consumption.

These thoughts occurred to me when I read Public Health England's (PHE) report: 'Options for action to support the reduction of sugar intakes in the UK'.

Snappy title and its content was summarised by a professor who said 'give your kids water to drink at tea-time'.

The effect of sugar on teeth has been known since Robert Stephan produced his 'curve' showing that demineralisation of enamel occurred when the pH of saliva or plaque dropped below 5.5 soon after the ingestion of sucrose.

Although the PHE report has been criticised for apparently ignoring tooth decay and focussing on obesity, this is unfair.

In its second paragraph it points out that  28% of five-year-olds and 31% of adults suffer from tooth decay.

Also that caries is a major cause of pain and suffering and the reason that many children have to undergo general anaesthetic for tooth extractions.

The report puts the blame for this dental decay firmly at the door of 'sugary foods and drinks'.

The report presents a menu of possibilities to help the country produce and make less, sell and market less, use and eat less.

There are some good ideas there, but after all these years of trying to get the public and industry to see the error of their ways, will they work?

I cannot say I am optimistic.

As I said sugar tastes good and brings in large profits for its manufacturers and retailers.

A few days before the publication of the report, ministerial sources ruled out a 'sugar tax'.

Obesity and dental decay are significant problems for people and both are caused by sugar.

Perhaps we should hope that this time a Government report will not be allowed to gather dust on the shelves of Whitehall.

Become a Dentistry Online member

Become a member
Add to calendar