New guide highlights the effects hidden sugars have on our oral health

hidden sugars

PHE’s Eatwell Guide highlights the dangers of hidden sugars and their effects on our oral health

Public Health England has launched the Eatwell Guide to highlight the dangerous effects hidden sugars can have on our oral health.

The guide is a visual way of showing how to keep a balanced diet, whilst highlighting the negative effects fruit juices and smoothies can have on our oral health.

‘There is a real problem in getting everyone to recognise when there are hidden sugars in food or drink, which people perceive to be “healthy”; especially in things like smoothies and fruit juices, which are currently very fashionable,’ Dr Ben Atkins, trustee of the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF), said.

‘Many of us are just not aware of the very high levels of sugar in some of these and that is a huge problem when it comes to our oral health.

‘People are often surprised when they continue to have problems even when they follow recommendations to brush for two minutes twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, but this is due to the hidden sugars in their diet, such as in apparently “healthy” drinks and snacks.

‘All health professionals need to provide consistent and accurate information to consumers about the dangers of hidden sugars for many areas of our health, including those that address obesity and diabetes.

‘PHE has taken a valuable step in highlighting parts of the diet that we may have been unaware of as contributing to poor oral health.

‘I am calling on all of us to make sure we read the labels of our foods and drinks carefully to see exactly how much sugar we are consuming.’

Hidden dangers

The BDHF is calling for more awareness of the causes hidden sugars can have on our oral health.

The Eatwell Guide shows the government’s revised recommended proportions of food groups following the new sugar recommendations outlined by the PHE, calling for reduced sugar intake to no more than 5% of our daily energy intake.

‘We have recently seen the government introduce a sugar tax on soft drinks but there is a failure of this to cover pure fruit juices, some of which have higher levels of sugar than soft drinks,’ president of the British Society on Dental Hygiene and Therapy (BSDHT), Michaela ONeill, said.

‘PHE has recognised the dangers these hidden sugars pose to our oral health and we hope its advice is heeded by the public.

‘In the last year alone more than 33,000 children were admitted to hospital for tooth extractions under general anaesthetic, this is absolutely appalling and we hope that by understanding more about what we are consuming we can start to reverse this terrible statistic.’


  1. 1

    Good – now when are we going to get the National TV and other media adverts from PHE, NHS England, HMG etc???

    Then millions of people can be informed quickly and effectively in this and other dental health prevention issues, instead if it staying a relative secret nationally and only maybe 100,000 reading it in a year+ perhaps ???

    We’ve got to ise the national Media like never before, so everyone can give the right advice to everyone else, from a few key points!

    Road safety and the Fire Service have done this effectively, it’s time for Dental Oublic Health information to come out of the ‘dark ages’ communicatively now!

    Yours also preventively,


  2. 2

    To Dr Ben Atkins, trustee of the British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF),
    I am not at all surprised that your association promotes people brushing their teeth with poisonous fluoride and for years and years dentists put mercury in (amalgam fillings). Mercury being a toxin of the worst kind and your association promoted it and it is still being used in poorer countries.
    Now you are trying to tell us that eating oranges and lemons are bad for us because of their sugar content. What a joke!
    What gives you or your organization any authority to poison us for years and come out saying that the poison ‘Fluoride’ is good for our teeth. Most people know that fruit is good for them, but when companies put 11 teaspoons of sugar in their soft drinks, then that’s not good and leads to diabetes. The last persons us the people will take notice of in the future are those cretins who still push poisonous fluoride on us and don’t speak up against it. Promoting fluoride in toothpaste under the guise of saving us from sugar in fruit is a disgrace and you Dr. Ben Atkins should be ashamed of yourself! Trying to turn the attention away from the poison fluoride and to blame sugar is a whitewash you and your organization won’t get away with as the people are more educated than you think!

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      “Although these drinks may be an excellent way of getting one of your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day they are misleading consumers by marketing themselves as healthy. A large proportion of the British public are unaware that fruit juices smoothies are very high in sugar and could be damaging to their oral health.
      “When a fruit is blended or squeezed it breaks down the sugars which then cover a larger portion of the tooth and can enter all the little pockets in the mouth and along the gums.
      “A fruit smoothie or juice is also very thick and sticks to the teeth so the sugars have more time to attack the teeth.
      “Frequent consumption of drinks with high sugar content causes decay and they can also be very acidic, so you also run the risk of causing dental erosion. The Oral Health Foundation recommends water and milk as the healthiest choice of drinks and also emphasises that cutting down on how often you have sugary drinks can have a big improvement.
      “Fruit and veg is a big part of a healthy balanced diet but we encourage consuming these as solid foods rather than through drinks as they are much less harmful to teeth.”

  3. 5

    Nice read! The more we inform both dental professionals and adults about nutritional choices the more we may chip away at chronic active infections like tooth decay in kids. Dental hygienists and dental assistants may be our first line of defense for sharing what to look for on labels.

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