Today, August 4, marks the beginning of Dental Health Week, an initiative from the Australian Dental Association (ADA) focusing on promotion and raising awareness around oral and dental health.

Are you a 'Sugar Bandit?'

Are you a ‘Sugar Bandit?’

This year the campaign centres on ‘Sugar Bandits.’

A ‘Sugar Bandit’ is a parent, grandparent, or family member who uses sugary foods as a ‘treat’ to reward good behaviour or simply in response to children’s ‘pester power’.

According to the ADA, “Using food to reward, bribe or comfort children sends an inappropriate message about food from an early age and undermines other efforts to build healthy eating habits. Children who consume high sugary foods and drinks on a regular basis are at greater risk of dental decay as well as obesity and diabetes.”

The theme is designed to inform parents, grandparents, other relatives and children about how sugary foods contribute to poor oral health.

The ADA’s campaign tagline encourages all children, parents and family members to question, “Who is the sugar bandit is in our family?”

Dr Peter Alldritt, chair of the ADA’s oral health committee explains disturbing results from a national survey around tooth decay found nearly 50 per cent of Australian parents believe “getting cavities just happens to children.”

Dr Alldritt said, “This survey data is very concerning considering that tooth decay is the most common chronic disease for children, even though it is entirely preventable.

“The number one cause of tooth decay is the consumption of sugary foods and drinks on a regular basis.”

According to the ADA, the ‘Sugar Bandit’ is often unaware they are a part of the problem. Many snacks identified as ‘healthy’ can contain high levels of sugar, which can lead to cavities.

Some of the main sugary food culprits identified by the ADA include: dried biscuits, dried fruit, biscuits (sweet or savoury), fruit juice, muesli bars, crackers, children’s cereals, flavoured milk, sweetened yogurt, fruit bars, fruit slice, flavoured popcorn, canned fruit, baked goods and banana bread.

So, this week make sure you keep your eyes out for the ‘Sugar Bandits’ in your house and feel free to dob them in at the “Healthy Teeth” Facebook page here.