Editorials

Children's dental health and medicines that contain sugar

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.6998.141 (Published 15 July 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:141
  1. Iain C Mackie, Senior lecturer
  1. Department of Oral Health and Development University of Manchester Dental Hospital, Manchester M15 6FH

    Doctors must take the lead by prescribing sugar free medicines whenever possible

    Dental caries is a multifactorial disease, but the primary aetiological agent is sugar. To help children and their parents control dental caries the frequency of sugar consumption must be reduced. Many people equate this with cutting down on sweets, but they are often unaware of the sugars in foods and drinks such as biscuits, cakes, breakfast cereals, baby drinks, cordials, and soya milk. Another commonly used product that contains sugar and is given to children regularly is liquid medicine.

    Since 1984 the British National Formulary has warned that “Although liquid preparations are particularly suitable for children, many contain sucrose which encourages dental decay.”1 In view of this harmful effect, doctors have been recommended to prescribe sugar free medicines whenever possible. Previously such advice was difficult to follow because only a few sugar free medicines were available, but the pharmaceutical industry has responded by reformulating old preparations and producing new varieties that …

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