Dentist in Cardiff Shares Opinion on Sugar Tax
As a dentist in Cardiff, we often see the adverse effects excessive sugar consumption can have on your teeth. So when David Cameron decided not to rule out the possibility of introducing a sugar tax, our interest was peaked. Could this tax be the birth of a new era for dental hygiene, or will its launch create new difficulties for your oral health?
How Would the Sugar Tax Work?
Public Health England recently produced a much anticipated report outlining the current effects that sugar is having on our health. The report concludes by stating that our unhealthy sugar consumption is leading to health issues and obesity. A proposition of what can be done was outlined by Public Health England. Amongst various suggestions lay a key idea that is causing a stir in the food and drink industry:
"A tax on sugar between 10-20%."
If implemented, the sugar tax should force up the price of the affected foods and drinks. In theory, this will lead to consumers buying less of these products and thus decreasing sugar consumption in the economy.
What Does Less Sugar Mean for Your Teeth?
Our Dentist in Cardiff often treats patients for tooth decay (causing cavities).This is certainly a consequence arising due to excessive sugar consumption.
Cavities are formed due to bacteria living in the mouth. These organisms digest small pieces of carbohydrate debris that is stuck to the teeth after you eat. This excess debris is often left after eating foods such as; cookies, sweets and fizzy drinks. As these bacteria progress with digesting the excess carbohydrates, an acid is formed in your mouth. This acid reacts with your saliva to form your tooth's arch enemy - plaque. This plaque starts to accrue in your mouth every time you eat. If you fail to brush your teeth properly and regularly, the plaque remains. Consequently, this leads to the erosion of your tooth enamel. As this worsens, the plaque begins to attack the deeper layers of your teeth resulting in cavities that can cause intense tooth pain. So, although sugar is not the direct cause of cavities, it certainly acts indirectly in a way that leaves you set on the dreaded path to tooth decay.
The Case of Substitute Goods
Although, in theory, the sugar-tax will greatly reduce consumption of sugar in the United Kingdom. This is certainly not the end of the story. As sugary products become more expensive for the average consumer, what will they consume instead? This is a key concept for us to consider. Our dentist in Cardiff knows first hand, that sugary foods are not the only culprit of poor dental health. If our consumers end up replacing their excessive sugar consumption with increased purchasing of something equally damaging or even worse, then the tax on sugar would be ineffective. For example, if sugary snacks become too expensive, some people may start to snack on foods such as pickled onions or gherkins. These foods are drenched in highly acidic vinegar which can cause damage to your teeth. What about fizzy drinks? The increased prices for these may lead to people choosing to consume higher amounts of coffee as a replacement. The tannic acids in coffee can result in the wear down of your enamel. On top of this, too much coffee can cause your teeth to become discoloured. Although this can be rectified with the use of a professional teeth whitening treatment.
What if Producers' Try to Cut Costs?
Sugary treat producers will see a dramatic fall in profits as a result of the implementation of a sugar tax. Naturally, they will look for way to bring their sales back up. One way of doing this is to cut the costs of production in an effort to counteract the tax. If successful, the company can offer their sugary snacks at the original price and still make the same amount of profit as they used to before the tax! In an effort to cut costs, the quality of these sugary snacks will inevitably drop:
- Cheaper, less healthy ingredients may be used.
- Unhealthy additives may be bolstered on to the ingredients list in an effort to increase shelf life.
- Forms of sweeteners may be developed that could be even worse for us than sugar is.
These are just a few of the ways our sugar rich snacks could be adapted following the introduction of a sugar tax, and just some of the reasons why our Dentist in Cardiff believes that the bigger picture must be assessed when discussing the tax.
So, What Can Be Done?
It has been suggested that any money generated through the tax should be reinvested into other healthier food industries. This will help with the development of new healthier snacks and could lead to the rise of a new healthier food industry. If these types of healthier snacks could be subsidised by the Government then sugary-snack producers may have a strong enough incentive to move away from their old products and start producing those foods and drinks that will give us better nutrition. Some of the funds generated from the tax should also be used to provide information to the public. Over-consumption of these sugary foods can be greatly reduced if we work to getting more and more information and knowledge out there that explains to consumers what they are putting into their mouth.
Is Your Dentist in Cardiff in Favour of the Sugar Tax?
Bamboo Dental, our dentist in Cardiff, believes that the introduction of the tax can potentially have incredible health benefits for your teeth. From a dentist's point of you, this is great and would be warmly welcomed. Of course, there would need to be other strategies put into place that can help shape the snack industry in the right way if the tax is introduced. But, all said, it's introduction is very likely to have a positive effect on the nation's dental health.