Nation’s eating habits leave oral health charity plenty to chew on
A new survey looking into some of the nation’s dietary habits has left one oral health charity calling for people to think about the impact their diet can have on their oral health.
The call comes as the findings showed almost three in four (73 per cent) ignore the impact diet could have on their oral health when consuming food and drink, with men ranked as the worst offenders.
The results also appeared to suggest nearly a third (32 per cent) are unaware of the relationship between diet and oral health, and are oblivious as to the potential damage sugary foods and drinks can cause.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, is concerned about the lack of education surrounding diet and oral health and says it is important that people take more responsible with the food and drink they consume while encouraging healthy eating habits, especially in children of a younger age.
Dr Carter says: “Most of us know and understand how various foods and drinks affect our body and overall health but many remain unaware that diet also plays a vital role in oral health. Poor diet contributes to a variety of problems in the mouth including dental decay, erosion and bad breath.
“Every time we eat or drink anything sugary, teeth are under attack for up to one hour. Saliva plays a major role in neutralising acid in the mouth, and it takes up to an hour for that to happen. If sweetened foods and drinks are constantly being eaten, the mouth is constantly under attack and does not get the chance to recover. That is why one of our key messages is to cut down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks.
“Frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks naturally weakens the enamel on the teeth, and as a result we recommend eating three square meals a day instead of having seven to ten ‘snack attacks’.”
The UK in general has developed a very unhealthy food environment, with more than 60 per cent of adults classed as overweight or obese. This is contributing to a growing social and economic burden of chronic disease including cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes. Both of these killers have also been linked to poor oral health, and Dr Carter offered some simple advice on how people can help their waistbands and oral health.
“If you do snack between meals, choose foods and drinks that do not contain sugar, such as cheese, breadsticks, raw vegetables or nuts. It is better, particularly for children, to eat sugary foods all together at mealtimes rather than to spread eating them out over a few hours. More than one in four five-year-olds suffer from tooth decay, so there is a very real need for parents to moderate their child’s snacking on sweet foods and drinks. Try and keep to three meals a day and no more than two snacks.
“It is also worth bearing in mind the Foundation’s messages. Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste and visiting the dentist regularly, as often as they recommend will help to reduce and identify oral health problems. By following this advice we can create a swift improvement in oral health while decreasing the amount of totally preventable dental treatment that is carried out every year.”
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