Letter: Bitter news for those with a sweet tooth

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Sir: Richard Cottrell's letter (29 March) mentions the surveys coordinated by the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry (BASCD) and the Office of Population Census & Survey (OPCS) studies in 1983 and 1993. These relate to trends in the levels of dental decay in children.

The detailed BASCD surveys have now been published, and show there has been a definite slowing down in the rate of improvement in the 12- and 14-year-old groups. Dr Cottrell does not draw attention to the disquieting figures related to decay in the five-year-old population in both the BASCD and the OPCS surveys. In a number of geographical areas, these are now deteriorating. The older pupils may also show the same adverse trend in due course.

Dental decay is still an important health problem for a significant proportion of the child population. While we would certainly agree with recommendations to brush teeth on a regular basis with a fluoride toothpaste, it is clearly important to link this with clear advice to reduce the total sugar intake in foods and drinks and to restrict these items to mealtimes.

This may be an unpalatable message to the Sugar Bureau, but it was one that was unequivocally stated in the Government's Committee on the Medical Aspects of Food No. 37 on Dietary Sugars and Human Disease.

Yours faithfully,





British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry

Reading, Berkshire

29 March