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News / August 19, 2014

Parents’ war on sugar seeks more support

by Guy Hiscott

New research from Colgate shows that parents need additional support to help look after their children’s teeth as healthy diet messages are failing to sink in.

Almost two thirds of dental professionals find themselves repeating the same dietary and oral health advice for caries prevention in children during their appointment most or all of the time. Making matters worse, dental professionals believe that only 1% of parents always follow the advice given to them about their child’s diet.

The survey, commissioned by Colgate as part of the launch for the new Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutraliser toothpaste, gathered insights into the diet and oral health practices of dental professionals in relation to their own families, and the advice that they give to parents on caries prevention for their children.

The results reveal that a staggering 97% of dental professionals see at least one child every day in their practice who is suffering from caries due to a high-sugar diet, with more than a quarter (26%) saying that they see at least five children. In England, 27.9% of five-year-olds1 and 33.4% of 12-year-olds2 have experience of dental decay, and worldwide up to 90% of school children have dental caries3.

All dental professionals know the effect of a high sugar diet on caries, and 92% of those surveyed mostly or always consider the impact that diet has on caries in their own children when shopping for food. However, the survey also revealed that three in 10 dental professionals admit to knowing very little about hidden sugars, and 28% agree that it is very difficult to avoid buying foods for their family that do not pose an everyday caries risk as even foods labelled as ‘healthy’ can contain hidden sugars.

Nigel Denby, who consulted on the research, commented: ‘As a dietician, I’m an advocate for healthy foods like dried fruit and yoghurt which are necessary for a healthy balanced diet. As well as important vitamins and minerals, these types of foods also contain “hidden” sugars that can contribute to caries. Families shouldn’t try to avoid all sugar in their diet though; it’s not practical and would mean they’d be missing out on naturally healthy foods.’

The Colgate study results show that dental professionals buy a wide range of healthy foods that contain ‘hidden’ processed or free sugars including bread, yoghurt, breakfast cereal and baked beans.

Nigel states: ‘To get the sugar balance right in children’s diets, it’s essential that parents are provided with advice about both “bad, added sugar”, like you can find in sugary drinks and confectionery, and hidden sugars. This advice should be given as part of appropriate caries prevention strategies – including avoiding sugary snacks between meals – in order to achieve the highest chance of healthy teeth.’

The Colgate research reveals that 90% of dentists feel that there’s a need for greater education regarding caries prevention beyond just limiting foods with a known high sugar content such as sweets and chocolate. However, only 35% of those questioned ban their own children from eating high-sugar foods.

‘Realistically, a complete sanction on this kind of food is impractical and difficult to enforce, and sugar is a largely unavoidable part of many children’s diets, despite the best intentions of mums and dads,’ says Dr David Bloom, former president of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and consultant on the research. ‘The findings of the survey demonstrate that parents need additional solutions, in addition to a healthy diet, to support caries prevention.

‘Colgate’s new Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutraliser plus Sugar Acid Neutraliser toothpaste is a great weapon in a parent’s war on sugar because it uses Sugar Acid Neutraliser technology to target acids produced from free sugar in the diet. Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutraliser gives parents some peace of mind to know that their child’s oral health is still being protected.’

Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutraliser

Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutraliser uses Sugar Acid Neutraliser technology to directly target acids produced from free sugar in plaque. Supported by eight years of clinical research involving 14,000 subjects, Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection toothpaste plus Sugar Acid Neutraliser technology has been clinically proven to provide greater cavity protection versus regular everyday toothpaste with the same level of fluoride.

The mode of action of Colgate Maximum Cavity Protection plus Sugar Acid Neutraliser is the result of Colgate continuing to innovate to take a ground breaking step in the fight against caries, setting a new standard of care in everyday protection for young families and children.

To find out more information, visit


  1. National Dental Epidemiology Programme for England: oral health survey of 5-year-old children 2012.
  2. NHS Dental Epidemiology Programme for England: oral health survey of 12-year-old children, 2008/2009.
  3. World Health Organisation. Oral Health Fact Sheet. 2012. Available at: Last accessed July 2014.