Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Kerry McLean: Ouch! Why my love of sweets, cold chocolate straight from the fridge and rock hard toffee may be about to bite the dust

Our teeth are in a worse state than ever, a study says
Our teeth are in a worse state than ever, a study says
Kerry McLean

By Kerry McLean

Halloween should have been done and dusted over a week ago, but it's still very much ongoing for my husband and I as we attempt to battle our way through all the trick or treat sweeties in our house.

We're lucky enough to have extremely generous neighbours who handed over massive mounds of treats to my children when they knocked on their doors. Rest assured, it's not the kids' chocolates that we're eating. Instead the sugar mountain in the kitchen cupboard that we're attempting to consume is my own creation.

The blame lies squarely at my feet - I vastly overestimated the amount of lovely munchies I'd need the little visitors to our own front door.

On Halloween last year, so many witches, goblins and superheroes visited our house that I ran out of chocolate and was left with the option of doling out money or fruit. Knowing how my own brood would have felt about a toffee-free apple or a non-chocolate orange, I decided that money was the only way to go.

It got a good reaction from the children on the night, but by the end of the evening you would have sworn my purse had been on a long-term diet, it was so thin. Not to be caught out again, I bought several bags full of goodies, only to have far fewer youngsters pay us a visit on the night.

Of course, my own kids were delighted at the thought of having extra treats for themselves but, for the sake of their health and their ability to sit still and go to sleep at night, my husband and I have been selflessly attempting to munch our way through the bucket of treats. It's a hard job, but somebody has to do it.

When we began chomping our way through the leftovers, I knew my waistline was likely to suffer. What I hadn't thought about at all was my teeth. But while sucking on a hard lolly, watching the fabulous David Attenborough series, Seven Worlds, One Planet, I absent-mindedly bit down hard as David was solving the mystery of the Yeti (no spoilers - go watch it if you haven't already) and managed to snap a great big lump off my tooth.

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It cost me a pretty penny to get it fixed at the dentist. While I was lying back in his chair, one thought ran through my head: 'Well, buying extra sweets instead of handing out coins turned out to be a false economy.'

I never learn my lesson when it comes to treats and my teeth. This week was the third time I've had to go to the dentist with sweet-related damage.

The first was when I cracked a tooth on some lovely cold chocolate, straight out of the fridge. The second was one Christmas morning when I got the traditional gift of a square of hard toffee and a little silver hammer to break it up. Unfortunately, the toffee wasn't the only breakage that day as half a molar attached itself to a lump of toffee and exited my mouth.

Don't be left with the notion that I have a mouth resembling that of former Pogues singer Shane MacGowan. I try hard to look after my gnashers but I think, given the evidence, it's fair to say that my teeth clearly aren't the strongest.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that appears to be the case for all of us living today.

Researchers from the University of London confirmed this week that our teeth are in a worse state than ever.

Our hard-working ancestors back in the 17th century may have lived without toothpaste, toothbrushes and mouthwash, but it seems the average soul also had a lot less tooth loss and decay than we have. In fact, the only people in those days to suffer from similar dental problems as ourselves were the richest in society. Why? Due entirely to them being the only people who could afford sugar.

So, next year, instead of hanging up plastic ghosts or vampires, I may just stick up photos of my crumbling teeth and label them 'caused by Halloween sweets'. Now that would be truly terrifying.

Belfast Telegraph


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