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Consensus Statement on Sugary Drinks

Sugary drinks are no longer a looming public health crisis, but a very real one. By working together, and acting now, we can prevent not only oral health damage, but obesity - a leading risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

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What are Wisdom teeth, and why are they such a problem?
Wisdom teeth usually appear at the back of your mouth during your late teens or early twenties. Often there is no room for them to come through the gum and they fail to emerge properly. A wisdom tooth can erupt partly through the gum, or remain trapped as an ‘impacted' wisdom tooth.

Do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed?
Not always but it is wise to seek advice from a dentist:

  • wisdom teeth can be very difficult to clean, and are prone to tooth decay, gum disease, and recurring infections.
  • cysts and tumours can develop in tissues around impacted wisdom teeth
  • if your wisdom teeth are unable to erupt, they may cause pressure and damage or crowd the neighbouring teeth
  • wisdom tooth extractions are easier when you are younger.

How can I find a dentist that provides free dental care for teenagers?
It is important to choose a dentist that has an agreement with the district health board, to provide the free dental care. You can ring your family dentist to find out if they are providing this free dental care. If they are not then you can choose someone from the list of dentists providing this free service. You can get this list by ringing 0800 TALK TEETH/ 0800 825 583.

I am 16 yrs old and out of school - am I eligible for free dental care?
Yes, all teenagers are eligible for free dental care until they turn 18 years of age - whether at school, course, work or unemployed. If you have more questions about your eligibility have a look at the criteria for publicly funded health services on the Ministry of Health website
Eligibility Criteria.

Why is fizzy drink bad for teeth?
A normal mouth has a pH of 6.2 to 7, which is close to neutral with no damage done to the teeth. Though enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it begins to dissolve at pH levels below 5.5. Fizzy drinks are very acidic with an average pH of 3.5. This acid can not only dissolve the tooth enamel but can also make it prone to tooth decay. Diet or sugar-free drinks may not have sugar, but they usually contain harmful acid.

What foods are bad for teeth?
The bacteria in your mouth use carbohydrates as energy and produces acid as a by-product. Some carbs -especially those like sucrose, as found in sweets and soft-drinks - cause more acid to be produced, and are worse for your teeth. Avoid eating sugary, sticky and crispy snacks in between meals. Replace these with healthy snacks such as fresh fruit pieces, cheese, chopped vegetables and sandwiches. Stick to water and milk, especially between meals.