World Oral Health Day shines spotlight on sugar

As part of this year’s World Oral Health Day, on 20th March, attention from the confectionery industry has focused on how oral health can be maintained at every stage of life, writes Anke Sentko, Vice President Regulatory Affairs & Nutrition Communication at BENEO, due to the high levels of sugar in confectionery products.

Tooth decay is prevalent across the world, with the WHO Global Oral Health Status Report (2022) estimating that oral diseases affect close to 3.5 billion people worldwide. Of these, an estimated two billion people suffer from caries of permanent teeth and 514 million children suffer from caries of primary teeth.

Good oral health begins in childhood and carries on throughout a person’s life. A recent survey reflected that some European countries are more ‘tooth-conscious’ than others – with Norway top of the list, Germany ranking 3rd and the UK 12th – but there is still work to be done to help people with good oral hygiene practices and continue these as they age.

Older people are increasingly turning to hard candies to  alleviate mouth dryness brought on by certain medications and other long-term health problems. As part of life-long good oral hygiene, opting for sugar-free or -reduced confectionery products helps with ensuring good oral health as well as remineralisation (self-repairing effect) on the teeth.

Producers looking to create solutions that support oral health can explore BENEO’s tooth friendly ingredients, which includes sugar replacer Isomalt and alternative sugar Palatinose. This offers manufacturers possibilities for creating chocolates, chewie candies and more that do not promote tooth decay, while not compromising on taste.

Research shows consumers are interested in no-sugar or reduced-sugar solutions in confectionery, but there is also great interest in what kind of sugar is used for confectionery producer. When I spoke to Aysegul Ozcan, Marketing Manager for Sweeteners and Texturisers at Cargill for our November/December issue, she explained that “no category is immune to wariness when it comes to these sweet components.

“The successful reduction of sugars in confectionery often requires a longer list of ingredients,” she told me, stressing: “No single solution will work for every confectionery application.”

Speaking of sugars and sweeteners more generally, stevia rated highly in consumers’ positive perceptions as a sweetener associated with nature. “Consumers show growing interest in stevia both due to its ‘nature-derived’ origin compared to artificial, high intensity sweeteners and the improved taste performance.”

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Media contact

Caitlin Gittins
Editor, International Confectionery
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 920

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