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Dental Hygiene Apathy vs. Big Sugar

I had let my good flossing habits slide for a while, but following a dental checkup six months ago, I got back on flossing every day, as the dentist office recommended. This week’s checkup showed markedly healthier gum tissue than last time. I asked the dental technician if it would be even more advantageous to floss twice a day, instead of only once. She said it absolutely would be better, and in fact they would like to see people both brush and floss twice a day.

Why don’t they recommend twice-daily flossings outright, then? Most of their clients don’t floss once a day yet, she said, and they don’t want to bother trying to pester them up to twice a day.

Meanwhile, this week an article appeared in the Washington Post revealing that the sugar industry wielded their money and power to influence the United States government away from recommending that people eat less sugar to prevent tooth decay, and to instead focus on methods of reducing the impact of sugar through more extensive dental hygiene. The official reason? It would be ineffective to try to get people to eat less sugar.

While that may be true, the actual reason appears to be strictly financial; the sugar industry wants to continue making money, even if the product they are selling, at least when consumed in the quantities typical today, is harmful to its customers. As explained in the article, a recent push to include a label indicating “added sugar” to food products which have been sweetened has met with resistance from the sugar industry — the same people who say that “sugar has been safely used by our mothers and grandmothers for hundreds of years.” If that’s really what they believe, one might think they would like to see the label proudly proclaiming the inclusion of added sugar…

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