Dentists give their blessing to soft drink that passes acid test

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The Independent Online
THE FIRST soft drink to be backed by dentists was launched yesterday. While the British Dental Association said it would prefer children to drink water or milk, it said that if children wanted soft drinks then it could recommend Ribena Tooth Kind.

The drink has been accredited by the association, the national professional body for dentists, which means that its experts have confirmed manufacturer SmithKline Beecham's scientific claims and entitles the drink to carry the organisation's name and logo.

National surveys show dental decay is a significant public health problem and many children have dental erosion from a very early age. The association says sugar in diet can cause decay and acids cause erosion - the wearing away of the hard enamel on the surface of the tooth.

A 1996 survey for the Health Education Authority showed dental erosion by acidic drinks and other sources now affects 30 per cent of 13-year- olds.

And a 1993 survey of children's dental health reported that 50 per cent of five and six-year-olds had erosion on their primary incisor teeth and a quarter had enamel worn away.

"Until now there have been no soft drinks specially formulated not to promote dental erosion or encourage tooth decay." said John Hunt, chief executive of the BDA. "Our advice to parents of young children is still that water and milk are best for teeth. But if children want soft drinks then Ribena Tooth Kind is one that dentists can recommend."

The drink will be in the shops from late April and comes in bottles of blackcurrant flavour concentrate or in ready-to-drink cartons in blackcurrant, orange or strawberry flavours.

It contains no added sugar and is lower in the fruit acids which have been blamed for helping to cause dental erosion. It is also high in vitamin C. SmithKline Beecham says it used breakthrough technology to develop the drink with the specific aim of creating a drink that was "kind to teeth".

The BDA's accreditation system was introduced in 1991 to cover oral health products like toothpastes and mouth rinses and reassure dentists and the public about product safety and quality. This year the BDA extended the scheme to include food and drinks as a means of helping consumers make a healthy choice.