Need a policy to prevent dental decay in infants and early childhood

New Delhi: The International Sympoium “Is Sugar the new tobacco? – Oral Health perspectives” was held on the 11th November 2016 at the Inida Habitat Centre New Delhi. It was organised by the Centre for Dental Education and Research, AIIMS New Delhi. The symposium was inaugurated by the Director AIIMS, Prof MC Misra. Experts from the WHO, Dr Jayasurya Kumari Navaratne,
Dr Paula Moynihan from the WHO Collaborating Centre for Nutrition and Oral health, New Castle University, Dr Cynthia Pine CBE, Professor of Dental Public Health from the Barts and London School of Dentistry and Medicine were present. At the event, the Director emphasised the need to cut down and rationalise sugar consumption in various forms including fizzy drinks, sweets and refined food. Dr Jayasurya Navaratne from the WHO South East Asia Office, New Delhi said it is important to design public health and population based strategies to curb the dangers associated with high sugar consumption, one of the ways as proposed by WHO being Taxation on Sugar Sweetened Beverages, SSB.
Dr OP Kharbanda, Chief, Centre for Dental Education and Research highlighted on the importance of sugar intake control to prevent dental decay in infants and early childhood. He also highlighted on the history of sugar and the patterns of sugar consumption. This is the first of its kind symposium in India on Sugar and the oral health perspectives. And it is set to deliberate on sugar policy as well as a prevention programme for dental diseases at the population level.
He said the first sugar was recorded in England in 1099. Sugar was available in London at “two shillings a pound” in 1319 AD, which equates to about US$100 per kilo at today’s prices so itwas very much a luxury. The ancient Greeks and Romans, used sugar only as an imported medicine and not as a food to help relieve pain There is a consensus that sugars are implicated in several NonCommunicable diseases, including dental caries (World Health Organization [WHO] 2003; Sheiham and James 2014; WHO 2015). Moreover, sugars are a “sufficient” cause of dental caries (Rothman and Greenland 1999); sugars determine whether or not caries develops. A dynamic relationship exists between sugars and oral health.
Proven Cause-Effect relationships indicate that Sugar is a prime mover when it comes to dental caries, subsequent to plaque formation. Sugar could not just mean sweet, sticky food and sugar sweetened beverages. In this epoch of increased availability, robust marketing and the subsequent consumption of ready to eat and highly refined food, sugar could turn bitter! Patterns of sugar consumption change along the life course. There is a change in behaviour from early childhood to adolescence, with adolescents being more independent in selecting their foods and drinks. That could increase the risk for caries development (Sheehy et al. 2008; Ogden et al. 2011).

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