GULP Kind to Teeth Campaign

14 May 2018

A new early years campaign, ‘Kind to Teeth’, has been launched to mark the start of this year’s National Smile Month* and to help promote healthier drink choices for under 5s in Cheshire West and Chester.

Research shows that by the age of five, nearly a third (31 per cent) of children (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) one had obvious decay in their milk teeth. In another study, 12 per cent of three-year-olds in England, two were found to have evidence of tooth decay having on average three decayed, missing or filled teeth – and sugary drinks are a major part of the problem. 

This is despite the fact that babies are only recommended to consume breast milk (or formula milk if necessary) until six months*, and then milk and water are the best source of hydration for babies and young children. 

Sugar is not necessary in the diet, especially for children and when consumed in the form of sugary drinks, can cause a whole host of health issues, from tooth decay, to obesity and type two diabetes. Lots of sugar can often be hiding in many baby juices and other sugary drinks marketed at the early years. For example, some popular baby juice drinks contain just under two cubes of sugar per serving. Despite being advertised as suitable for babies, public health guidance recommends no other drinks than milk and water before two years of age.  

And this is why along with Food Active, Cheshire West and Chester Council are running a GULP (Give Up Loving Pop) Early Years campaign, ‘Kind to Teeth’ to improve knowledge and raise awareness of the health risks associated with consumption of sugary drinks in under-fives. 

The campaign has been launched to coincide with National Smile Month, which runs from 14 May until 14 June 2018 and is the UK’s largest and longest running campaign to promote good oral health. The campaign highlights three key messages to help develop and maintain a healthy mouth; including cutting down on the number of sugary drinks consumed. 

The Kind to Teeth campaign has been developed by registered nutritionists, dental health and early year’s specialists and forms part of the well-known GULP 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. 

Ian Ashworth, Director of Public Health at Cheshire West and Chester Council 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 negative effect on their dental health and continued over-consumption can also lead to problems in later life, such as weight gain and type two 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 are 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, Councillor Louise Gittins, Cabinet Member for Communities and Wellbeing at Cheshire West and Chester Council said: “Improving the health of our area’s young children is a key priority for us, so I am very pleased that the Kind to Teeth campaign is being promoted by our local authority. We know that reducing the amount of sugar we eat and drink is important, but it is easy to forget babies and young children are also included in this. 

“According to the 2015 survey published by Public Health England, 20.3 per cent of five year olds in Cheshire West and Chester had experienced dental decay before they started school. We also know that 20.6 per cent of local children who started school in 2016 were either overweight or obese. Tackling unhealthy drink habits in the early years is a crucial preventative measure to protect our young children against poor dental health and weight gain.” 

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, as well as piling on the pounds, 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.”

* National Smile Month is the UK’s largest and longest running campaign to promote good oral health. Find out more here:

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