Cheesy advice

The combination of health advice and commercial promotion is never a happy one. The joining of the Dental Health Foundation and the British Cheese Board for National Smile Month is no exception. The intended messages, from the dental professionals side, seem to be that, if you must snack, then cheese is better than something sugary, and that consuming milk based food, such as cheese or yoghurt or milk itself, at the end of a meal will help reduce tooth erosion. But these have got rather lost in translation with the cheese marketing message taking precedence. The reported comment from a local dentist, who has been handing cheese out to child patients, suggests that she has swallowed the whole of the marketeers’ message.

It’s highlighting the fact that cheese is good for you. One piece is not going to reduce their decay, it raises awareness and informs people.

Quite. Oxygen is good for you too: without it, you suffocate; get too much of it and it is poisonous. Similarly water is good for you: too little and you dehydrate; breath vast quantities in and you will probably drown. In the simplistic view being presented, cheese ‘is good for you’ because it helps reduce tooth decay, and fruit juice is bad because it is sugary. It seems they’ve forgotten that there’s more to good health than just healthy teeth. The high levels of saturated fat and salt in cheese have been ignored (as has the contribution of fruit juice to a healthy intake of fruit and veg).

The dentists should stick to dentistry and leave the food marketing to others.