Brush up to win fight against festive food

STUFF the kids' stockings with toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss this Christmas to combat the sweets assault, advises the North Coast Area Health Service.

Teeth for Health project manager John Irving said the annual festive season's food binge inevitably sees an increase in sugar consumption.

“It's in the cakes, sweets and drinks, of course, and even the savoury dishes. We not only eat more sugar but also have it more frequently,” Mr Irving said.

“Frequency is as bad as quantity because the constant sugar levels stop saliva from doings its job of keeping the right pH levels in the mouth.”

Recent data from the World Health Organisation shows Australians eat an average of 63kg of sugar per person per year, which equates to more than a kilogram each week. According to NSW Health figures, most sugar we eat comes in processed foods, while less is put directly into home-prepared drinks and meals.

“All soft drinks, diet or otherwise, contain acid and an increasing problem amongst regular consumers of popular soft drinks is acid erosion of tooth enamel,” Mr Irving said. “In some age groups this has led to alarming dental disease that is both debilitating and expensive to fix.”

Mr Irving said reading the ingredients on packaging is the best way to avoid excessive sugar.

“A Christmas present of a new toothbrush, a fresh tube of fluoride toothpaste and a pack of floss may be just enough to remind someone to clean their teeth during this critical time,” he said.

“It may even give kids a kick-start to forming good oral hygiene habits - especially if parents enforce regular teeth cleaning.”

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