Letter: In the teeth of the scientific evidence

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The Independent Online
Sir: Richard Cook's views ('Ritual brushing fails the acid test', 22 March) are correctly described as controversial. What your article fails to mention is that they are hopelessly at variance with the available scientific evidence.

The recent Survey of Children's Dental Health from the Office of Population Censuses & Surveys shows a five-fold increase during the past 10 years in the number of 15-year-olds who have no experience of dental decay. The soon-to-be published surveys of the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry demonstrate that substantial improvements in teenagers have taken place in the past four years (more than a 20 per cent improvement in decayed, missing or filled teeth in every region of the country).

No evidence exists that dietary changes have contributed to these improvements. Indeed, most knowledgeable nutrition specialists suspect that the diet of teenagers, particularly, is now more of a challenge to their teeth. The 'grazing on the hoof' eating style is not recommended for perfect teeth.

Most researchers agree that the use of fluoridated toothpaste is the main factor responsible for eliminating decay from nearly half of today's children. The World Health Organisation has dedicated 7 April (World Health Day) to Oral Health. Its first message to prevent oral health problems is: 'Oral hygiene is part of body hygiene: clean your teeth and gums thoroughly every day. Remember to clean between your teeth with floss or interdental cleaners, especially if you have bridges or crowns.'

Its comments on diet reflect the scientific evidence: 'Your diet affects your overall health as well as your dental health. Eat sensibly and select healthy foods that make up a balanced diet, be prudent with sugar.'

Yours faithfully,

RICHARD COTTRELL

Director

The Sugar Bureau

London, SW1

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