You may have noticed a few price changes during your recent trips to your supermarket. Sugary drinks in particular have seen a hike because of the new sugar tax. While no-one likes to see the cost of their weekly shop going up, it’s a step in the right direction to tackling childhood tooth decay. However, it’s a shame that the announcement came with so much national media attention, focused solely on the link between sugary drinks and obesity – the sugar tax was a prime opportunity to also highlight their impact on dental health, particularly among young children.
Why we need sugar tax
We all know that if you eat too much sugar it can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. But tooth decay is another worrying side-effect of eating and drinking too much of the sweet stuff. You may be surprised to know that Public Health England statistics from April 2018, show that a child has a tooth removed in hospital every 10 minutes due to preventable tooth decay, with sugary drinks listed as one of the main causes.
As well as helping children establish a good dental routine from a very young age, cutting back on sugar is essential to keep their pearly whites healthy. Making sugary drinks less appealing by creating a sugar tax is one way to tackle this and we are in favour of the change.
What drinks are affected by the sugar tax?
The sugar levy came into force on 6 April 2018. Companies are taxed based upon the sugar content of their drinks. The higher the sugar, the higher the tax. If a drink has more than 5g of sugar per 100ml then it is affected. If it has 8g per 100ml or more then it is taxed at an even higher rate. Regular fizzy drinks like coke and lemonade have gone up in price by about 8p a can.
Families will also be interested in the impact on pure fruit juice and drinks with a high milk content. These are actually exempt from the tax, however, this doesn’t mean they are the healthiest option for your baby or toddler’s teeth. This is because fruit juice is very high in sugars that turn to acid in your mouth and can cause tooth decay.
What’s the healthiest drink for your child’s teeth?
The very best drink for your child is water as this comes with no nasties that will harm your little one’s teeth. Plus it contains fluoride which will help promote strong, healthy tooth development.
If you do give your child fruit juice, do so at meal times and water it down. A cup of milk is also good to have on the side with dinner, rather than as a refreshment in between meals. The saliva your child creates when they are eating all help to get rid of any harmful sugary acids that can cause problems if they linger on teeth for too long.
Tooth decay is completely preventable. Check out our frequently asked questions for more information about tooth decay, drinks and foods to avoid, and the best alternatives for your child.