Dentists on sugar

Open up…say ‘aaaah’ – and check out what these dentists have to say about sugar’s effects on our kids’ dental health.


Dr Debra Elsby, Paediatric Dentist  


“Limiting sugar is the easiest way to prevent dental caries. Plain milk and tap water are the best drinks for young children and they are also healthy for teeth.

Avoiding sipping on juices, cordial (even 'sugar-free' cordial), soft drinks and sports drinks throughout the day and avoiding grazing on foods throughout the day greatly decreases the risk of developing dental caries.

Limiting foods to breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner is much healthier.

We have a large problem with tooth decay in all age groups. It is one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood, five times as common as asthma - 48% of five year olds have cavities. Negative experiences for these young children can lead to fear and phobia and costs are large for both the families and the government.

When they do present (likely due to pain or infection) we then have to resort to treatment under general anaesthetic to provide good quality and safe treatment for these children. The extent of the cavities often results in multiple extractions at a young age. This can impact on spacing issues for the permanent teeth to erupt as the primary teeth act as 'spacers' for the permanent teeth, when they are lost early, potentially so is the space.”


Dr Steven Lin, The Dental Diet


“In my experience I've found children who suffer from childhood decay not only suffer dental scars, but the mental scars to go along with it. There's nothing worse for a dental practitioner than to have to extract an abscessed tooth from a child. It's an experience that stays with a child for life and has long term consequences beyond their mouth.

The childhood mouth exists in a balanced equilibrium with the developing bones (jaw) and soft tissues. When a child loses a tooth due to decay, the space is often lost for the permanent which may affect the normal facial growth.” 


Clinical Associate Professor Matthew Hopcraft, Sugar-free Smiles


 “Tooth decay is somewhat of a silent epidemic in Australia.

With around 1 in 2 children having tooth decay in their adult teeth by the age of 12, it is far and away the most prevalent disease affecting our children, and tooth decay rates have increased more than 60% over the past 12 years, yet we don’t hear enough about it.

And despite being preventable, all too often there are young children having teeth filled or extracted to treat the consequences of decay. Reducing the amount of sugar that we eat is one of the best ways we can help kids to have healthy teeth for life.”