The NHS in Wales is planning to stop the sale of hot drinks containing sugar from vending machines in its hospitals.
The ban is being put in place as sugar in tea or coffee offers no nutritional value, and can have a negative impact on dental health.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said: “It is positive news that the NHS in Wales is looking into ways to improve dental health within hospitals. Sugar does have a damaging impact on teeth – it can cause tooth decay. But it would be unreasonable to expect people to go to an extreme and cut all sugar out of their diet, the important thing is to try and cut down how often they have sugary foods and drinks. Each time sugar enters the mouth, it acts with the bacteria in plaque to form acid and teeth are under attack for an hour. By limiting how often this happens people can protect their teeth.”
The ban comes after schools were targeted by a health push by the Welsh Assembly. It was suggested children should not be allowed sugar in their tea during their break as part of a plan to tackle childhood obesity and poor health.
The Welsh Assembly, who recommends the sale of water and healthy snacks as an alternative, said: “Hospitals are visited by a very broad cross–section of society and, as such, the whole hospital environment should reflect the importance of healthy living.”
The Foundation emphasises there are other positive steps the public can take to improve their dental health.
Dr Carter suggests: “Chewing sugar free gum after eating creates extra saliva in the mouth which can help neutralise acid and prevent tooth decay.”
Visiting a dentist as often as recommended and brushing twice a day, for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste are also valuable preventive measures.
The National Dental Helpline offers impartial and confidential advice about dental issues, including diet and oral hygiene. T he helpline can be contacted on 0845 063 1188 or by email via [email protected], and is open Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.
For further information please contact the Foundation’s Press Office on [email protected] or 01788 539799.
The British Dental Health Foundation is the UK’s leading oral health charity, with a 30–year track record of providing public information and influencing government policy. It maintains a free consumer advice service, an impartial and objective product accreditation scheme, publishes and distributes a wide range of literature for the profession and consumers, and runs National Smile Month each May, to promote greater awareness of the benefits of better oral health.
The Dental Helpline, which offers free impartial advice to consumers, can be contacted on 0845 063 1188 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Alternatively, they can be contacted by email on [email protected]
Foods and drinks which have high acidity content can also be damaging to teeth. Acid erodes the enamel that acts as a protective layer on the teeth, which can leave teeth both sensitive and unsightly.
A series of ‘Tell Me About…’ leaflets covering topics such as caring for my teeth, finding a dentist and diet are also available.
The Foundation’s website can be found at www.dentalhealth.org