GULP Kind to Teeth Campaign

Today, ‘Kind to Teeth’, a campaign focusing on promoting healthier drink choices in children under 5 has been launched in Doncaster.

Research shows that in 2019 just under a quarter (23.4%) of 5-year-old children in England had experience of dental decay. In Doncaster, that number increases to 37% of five-year-old children experiencing dental decay [1].

Consumption of sugar is a key driver of dental decay, yet babies as young as one-year-old are consuming high levels of sugar – with fizzy drinks, soft drinks, fruit juice drinks and squash sweetened with sugar playing a key role in this.

Guidance recommends breastfeeding (or infant formula milk) until six months [2], and then milk and water are the best source of hydration for babies and young children as compared to other drinks, these drinks do not damage teeth or increase children’s risk of tooth decay.

However, lots of sugar can often be hiding in many baby juices and other sugary drinks marketed at the early years.  

Following the success of the launch of the campaign on National Smile Month 2018, today the campaign is being launched in Doncaster to improve knowledge and promote milk and water as the best sources of hydration for young children.

The Kind to Teeth campaign was developed by registered nutritionists, dental health and early year’s specialists and forms part of the well-known Give Up Loving Pop campaign. It is aimed at parents of children under five years of age, to help promote healthier drinking habits in the early years and will involve a number of electronic resources for local authorities to utilise. Since the launch in 2018, the Kind to Teeth campaign has been delivered in eight local authorities across England with campaign materials and resources being distributed across children’s centres, dental surgeries and GP practices.

Rupert Suckling, Director of Public Health, said: “The early years is a fantastic window of opportunity to influence healthy food and drink patterns, as habits are often established when children are young. Allowing our young children to become accustomed to sweet tastes from an early age can have a negative effect on their dental health and continued over-consumption can also lead to health problems in later life, such as type 2 diabetes.

“The Kind to Teeth campaign will help to educate parents on the health risks associated with consuming sugary drinks in the early years, and emphasise that water and milk is the best source of hydration for their young one. We hope it will help to influence healthy drinking patterns from the early years and throughout their growth and development into adulthood.”

Commenting on the Kind to Teeth campaign, the British Dental Association Health and Science Committee Chair, Dr Russ Ladwa said: “Tooth decay is the number one reason for hospital admission among children. The Give up loving pop ‘Kind to Teeth’ campaign is fantastic for your teeth and is a cheap way to help your kids maintain a healthy smile.

“Consuming too many fizzy drinks is rotting our teeth but the ‘diet’ versions are also damaging to teeth. These are highly acidic and over time will wear away the surface of the teeth.  Fizzy drinks are by far the biggest factor in causing dental erosion among young children and teenagers.”

(1) Public Health England (2019) National Dental Epidemiological Programme for England: oral health survey of 5-year-olds 2019. London: Crown Copyright

(2) WHO breastfeeding Guidance and “Optimal duration of exclusive breastfeeding (Review)”, Kramer MS, Kakuma R. The Cochrane Library, 2009, Issue 4).



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