Friday 17th April 2015. The new President of the Irish Dental Association has warned consumers to be aware of the hidden sugars which they may be consuming as part of a new healthy lifestyle.
Dr Anne Twomey said many patients who are participating in sports are presenting with significant tooth decay and erosion in their teeth.
Dr Twomey said that while most sports engaging in sports or activities understood the importance of hydration and a healthy diet many were not aware that a lot of the sports drinks and protein shakes which they consume have a very high sugar content.
Addressing over 400 delegates at the IDA’s annual conference in Cork, she said the IDA would be making contact with the Irish Sports Council and its member bodies such as the FAI, GAA, and IRFU to see how we can work together on this issue.
Dr Twomey said people who are constantly taking little sips of sports drinks from a bottle are effectively bathing their teeth in sugar and giving their mouths no time to recover.
“Clearly there are many benefits to adopting healthy lifestyles. However consumers have to be clear about what they and their children are consuming. Sports drinks, protein shakes,energy drinks, energy bars and fruit juices can contain anything from five to a dozen teaspoons of sugar. “
“We’ve even come across one drink which contained 14 teaspoons of sugar. Protein/meal replacement bars can be very damaging due to the sticky nature of the honey or syrup which is often included. Dried fruit also has a very high concentration of sugar also.
“Tooth decay is always caused by sugar. Often my patients are unaware they are consuming sugar as they are labelled with other words. There are in fact 57 different words used instead of sugar such as sucrose, lactose, glucose, fructose etc etc” she said.
Dr Twomey pointed to the findings of a survey of athletes at the London Olympics in 2012 by a team from University College London which found that athletes as a group had worse dental health than other people of a similar age.
Of the 302 athletes examined, from 25 sports, 55% had evidence of cavities, 45% had tooth erosion and 76% had gum disease.
One in three said their oral health affected their quality of life and one in five said it affected training or athletic performance.
Dr Twomey said it was ironic that such a large percentage of young athletes who were otherwise in fantastic physical shape, had really poor oral health and didn’t seem aware of the resulting negative impact on their well being and performance.
“Our advice is clear. Avoid sports drinks on a regular basis. If taking protein shakes or bars study the ingredients carefully and opt for those not containing sugar. Plain water is the ultimate thirst quencher while milk has also been found to be a very effective post workout drink.”
“For endurance sports if sugary fluid replacement is necessary try to drink through a straw. Brushing twice a day, using a mouthwash and going for regular dental check-ups might not transform you into an Olympian, but they will ensure you have good oral health” Dr Twomey concluded.
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Brief Bio of Dr Anne Twomey
Dr Anne Twomey, the new President of the Irish Dental Association, graduated with a BDS from UCC in 1993. After working in London for several years she achieved an MSc in gerodontolgy (geriatric dentistry) and returned to Cork in 1997. Her special interests are ‘teeth for life’ for the older patient, the management of phobic patients, preventive dentistry and aesthetic dentistry.
She has been a partner in Church Hill Dental Practice in Carrigaline since 2000 and has been involved in the Munster Branch of the IDA since 2002. She was branch President in 2008. She is married to John Holland, who is also a dentist and has two girls Jane (14) and Emily (12).