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Eating sweets need NOT damage your teeth



IF YOU need a filling at the dentist how many times have you heard the message ‘you must stop eating sweets and sugar’? Really, in this day and age with

Dr Mark Boulcott: Explaining dental disease to a patient.

Dr Mark Boulcott: Explaining dental disease to a patient.

sugar being added or included in almost all foods as not only a sweetener but as a preservative, texture modifier, fermentation substrate, flavouring and colouring agent, bulking agent and emulsifier, is it even possible to comply with this message and not starve?

It is no surprise, therefore that the statistics of decayed teeth in Pembrokeshire as regularly reviewed by the Hywel Dda Health Board Oral Health Profile (last published in 2013) shows an appalling incidence of dental decay in 5 year olds – and yet dental decay is a totally preventable disease!

So what in reality can you and your children eat and be reassured that your teeth will remain decay free? The answer is that there are really no safe foods. The food industry confuses us with statement like ‘no added sugar’, ‘contains natural sugars’ or ‘reduced sugar’. Sucrose, Glucose, Maltose, Fructose (as labeled on many foodstuffs) are all naturally occurring sugars and all, when eaten, cause acid to form in the mouth: The cause of dental decay with the acid ‘dissolving’ teeth. What is less obvious is the amount of sugar contained within the product.

In essence, sugar is sugar: They all cause dental decay no matter how much or how little you eat. One teaspoon of sugar (sucrose) in your Tea is just as bad for your teeth as five sugars. The only difference is that you may get fat, more prone to diabetes and other health complications with a higher sugar intake but much lower amounts of sugar ingestion will still cause teeth damage. So we have to assume all foods we eat contain sugar (fermentable carbohydrate) of some type.

This dissolving of the teeth, called dental decay or dental caries, puts you and your child at the risk of dental pain, infection and the need for treatments possibly including tooth removal.

Thinking that, in the case of young children, it does not matter (after all, ‘baby teeth’ will be replaced) is wrong. The decay of deciduous teeth may still lead to your child having pain and infection but worse, teeth removal possibly needing General Anaesthesia. This is a procedure not without risk and not easy to access in Pembrokeshire with the nearest GA treatment centre being in Swansea with waiting times often inappropriate for acute pain. There is also the fact that early loss of first teeth is much more likely to lead to crowded or crooked permanent teeth: a fact that may require later orthodontics (treating with braces).

The dentists at Herbrandston, one of Pembrokeshire’s most proactive dental practices in regard to prevention of dental disease, give a different message. Dr Mark Boulcott, the principal dental surgeon states: “I never tell parents to stop giving sweets. That message is unrealistic and unhelpful. The modern diet is full of sugary drinks, sugary confectionary and sugar containing meals. Instead I am far more interested in the frequency of sugar ingestion: how often patients eat sugar, not how much sugar.”

“It has been known for decades that sugar causes bacteria in the mouth to form acid which in turn damages teeth. Of course, no sugar equals no tooth decay, but what most patients (and indeed many dentists) fail to understand is that the amount of sugar required to cause bacteria to produce acid is minimal. The more sugar you eat does not mean more acid in your mouth – but even the slightest sugar intake causes tooth damage.”

Dr Boulcott points to evidence from as far back as the 1940s, when Dr Robert Stephan postulated the coincidence of reducing pH (acidity) and tooth decay: “It is evident even before the advent of the NHS that dental decay was not caused by having too much sugar, but by having too great a frequency of intake. Sugar causes damage by allowing mouth bacteria to produce acid but the amount of sugar eaten is irrelevant. Any damage caused by the acid (at a microscopic level) should be repaired provided the saliva is allowed and able to work properly, converting acid back to neutral products and acting to ‘repair’ damaged teeth. If sugar is regularly ingested and more acid is produced before this ‘repair’ process is completed then dental decay will result. The upshot of this is that if a child ate a chocolate bar for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is in fact unlikely that they will get significant dental decay. If they eat the same amount of chocolate between meals, then they are much more likely: Twice the cycle of damage and far less time for repair. It should be understood that a sugar diet is inevitable,” states Dr Boulcott.

“What people must understand is that keeping food intake to mealtimes only is the best way to keep your teeth safe. This one fact is more important than tooth brushing or Fluoride. So, yes, Children (and adults) can eat sweets but keep these short acting (chocolate rather than a chewy sweet) and confine these to mealtimes – avoid eating between meals.”

Sadly some 60 years on and this simple message is still failing to get through. Dentistry and preventive messages still seem to mean little to a large percentage of the population with people in Wales being less likely to have been seen a dentist in the past two years than people in England. (52.2% of adults in Wales and 56% in England; and 64.7% of children in Wales compared to 69.1% in England). Many people argue that the reducing amount of NHS dentistry is to blame but in reality many patients (over half the population of Wales) seek dentists only in event of an emergency; citing anxiety rather than money (or NHS access) as being the major obstacle to visiting.

At Herbrandston, the dentists are trying to change this attitude by breaking down the barriers of fear and anxiety offering often unique ways of dealing with even the most difficult of dental phobias. This not only includes a gentle caring atmosphere of quiet professionalism mixed with genuine friendliness but also techniques such as dental sedation, hypnosis, introductory sessions without treatment and even animal therapy using pigs and ferrets to desensitize. They are working hard to emphasise the preventative message rather than the cycle of repair after repair. A very busy practice despite being in a rather isolated part of Pembrokeshire, Herbrandston will be expanding to open a state of the art new practice in Narberth in March.

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Ambitious community project to capture untold stories from across Pembrokeshire



MILFORD HAVEN’S Torch Theatre is launching ‘The Pembrokeshire Story’, an exciting new community project that aims to connect people across generations in celebrating the Pembrokeshire spirit.

We all love a good story, but they are especially good if they throw light on the place that we are from. The Pembrokeshire Story is trying to bring local artists and our community together by mapping the county through everyday stories told by the people who live here. A story might be something as simple as how life has changed over the years or it might be a special event that you would want to remember. So often these stories remain as legends within our own families, but this is a chance to share them with the world. Everyone has a story to tell and this project will facilitate these stories to be recorded and remembered for generations to come.

The inspiration behind the project originated from the Torch Theatre’s Artistic Director, Peter Doran, who, whilst caring for his father who was suffering with Covid-19 at the start of the pandemic in 2020, encouraged his father to elaborate on stories which previously he had only touched on in passing.

Peter said: “My father told us of his time as an evacuee, having been sent from his home in Liverpool to the Welsh speaking village of Llamberis in North Wales. It was a fascinating tale and one that we might never have heard about had it not been for Covid-19. We’re all so busy, I feel we just don’t spend enough time with each other to allow these wonderful moments to happen, we’re all so busy it would seem.”

Peter’s father has thankfully gone on to make a full recovery from Covid-19 and is continuing to tell many more stories.

The Pembrokeshire Story is being led by Tenby based creative James Williams, who has assembled a team of freelance artists to capture extraordinary stories in different mediums from across the county. These stories are only part of the project and the Torch Theatre requires your help to capture your stories told across the generations.

James added: “Local artists have already been working to gather stories from over the county, and now we’d like to ask you to join in. We are putting out a call for videos made by young people where they interview their grandparents or older relatives about their experiences and stories of Pembrokeshire. These videos will be added to an online Living Archive which will be available for anyone to access.”

All the stories submitted will be added to the Living Archive on the Pembrokeshire Story website which will be launched in April. Videos can be made on a phone or recorded from a digital platform call (ideally filmed in landscape), they can be in English or in Welsh but must be no longer than 5 minutes.

If you would prefer not to film your submission, we would be happy to receive your story as an audio recording (mp3 format) or in writing, with an accompanying photograph.

For more information visit

If you would like to submit a story, please contact James Williams via this email address

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NHS worker from Pembroke Dock raises over £1,550 in a sponsored challenge



An NHS worker from Pembroke Dock has raised over £1,550 in a sponsored challenge with her husband Edd, having been inspired by the support their young niece received as a baby at Glangwili Hospital Special Care Baby Unit.

Donna Reed works in the Communications Team at Hywel Dda University Health Board and wanted to do her bit to say thanks to everyone who nursed Layla and supported the family for several weeks when she arrived very early in 2012.

Donna says, “Born at just 3lbs, Layla is now a beautiful, bubbly and full of beans eight-year-old. As a family we’d like to give something back to the staff who cared for Layla when she was so tiny.”

Donna and Edd raised over £1,000 on a JustGiving page and a donation of £500 was made by Edd’s employer, Valero Energy Ltd, where he works as a Process Operator.

Karen Jones, a Senior Nurse thanked the couple for their efforts. She said, “We really appreciate what Donna and Edd have done to support us. Donations like this are used to purchase items for parents and babies in order for their stay to be more comfortable and to help make the stay less stressful – items such as parent pamper packs, items for the parent’s sitting room and overnight room baby’s journal, items to support breast feeding and items to support premature babies development. They are also used to support specialist neonatal training for staff and purchase specialist neonatal equipment.”

Donna and Edd are planning a series of physical challenges through the year. Donna adds, “A year on since I started fundraising for Glangwili Hospital’s SCBU, and after all but one of my events last year were postponed, I decided to take on a very unique challenge to raise another £100 to get to my target.

“I ran the Narberth Nobbler’s 4 x 4 x 48 challenge between March 5-7. The event involved me and Edd running 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours, a total of 48 miles over the weekend. This is an incredibly tough endurance event that will test our stamina, perseverance and mettle.”
Layla’s mother Rebeca said, “As Layla was born prematurely it was a very worrying time, however we knew she was in the best hands in SBCU as they built her up to a healthy weight and did everything they could to reassure us as parents.

“We are so grateful for the care and support that staff gave to Layla and to our family, and to my sister and Edd for raising money for the unit.”
Donna also plans to take part in Broad Haven Triathlon, Cardiff Half Marathon and Snowdon Marathon Eryri, providing they go ahead.
Donna would like to thank everyone who’s supported her fundraising so far and is encouraging people to donate if they can, “Any amount, no matter how small, will help make a difference and 100% of funds raised will go towards helping babies like Layla and their families,” she says.

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Great Western Railway and the Fishguard Ocean Port – How WWI dashed ambitious plans for Fishguard



by Doug Evans

ALTHOUGH Fishguard Port is best known now for its easy route to Ireland, it was once part of an ambitious plan to take trans-Atlantic passengers away from the likes of Plymouth and Southampton.

In 1889, the Great Western Railway rook over the North Pembrokeshire and Fishguard Railway, and in preparation of turning Fishguard into a purpose-built ocean liner port, the GWR opened its first station, Fishguard & Goodwick railway station, in 1899 while work on the new port began with the construction of Fishguard Harbour’s East breakwater.

The overlooking village of Harbour Village was built to accommodate workers and the necessary 27 acres site and 900 metre breakwater were provided by blasting 1.6 million tonnes of rock from the cliff face.

A new line would connect the proposed liner terminal on the East Breakwater to the West Wales line. The new 2 mile route, which would have bypassed the steeper gradients and curves on this part of the original line, would have included a deep cutting, embankments and two tunnels.

However, the project to build a breakwater and an ocean-going terminal was abandoned after it became clear silting (which could not be prevented by dredging) would stop large ocean-going ships from using the port.

Local legend has it that the engineer responsible for this mistake committed suicide after realising the port was not suitable for its intended purpose. Another local myth suggests that the breakwater was deliberately built this way as locals didn’t want the harbour to become too large.

The East Breakwater was left unfinished. Two short sections of the planned railway to the new port terminal were completed before the project was ended.

In 1906, Fishguard and West Wales was visited by the largest ship in the world at the time the RMS Mauretania.

Fishguard Harbour, from above

An archived pamphlet for the Fishguard Port from 1913 provides a fascinating insight into the journey from America to London at the time.

It reads: “Fishguard is situated on the south-west coast of Wales, and is the nearest British port to New York used by Atlantic liners. It affords the quickest means of reaching London, and is also a convenient port for the Continent.

“In addition, many parts of England and Wales are within easy access of Fishguard; the Metropolis is 262 miles away and this distance is covered in under five hours.

“Tickets for seats in the special train from Fishguard to London will be furnished to Saloon passengers holding railway coupons. Passengers who do not hold coupons can purchase same at Purser’s Office before leaving the steamer.

“Single tickets and outward halves of return tickets between Fishguard and London are available for three months if purchased in America, or if issued in exchange for vouchers obtained in America. In other circumstances they are available for ten days.

“The baggage of London-bound passengers is ready labeled, “London, via Fishguard,” the lettering being white on a purple ground, the bold lettering and the distinctive coloring precluding the possibility of confusion.

“The route from Fishguard to London, passing through the industrial centres in South Wales and the charming scenes of the Thames valley, is full of interest.

“The speed at which the run is covered is the most potent tribute to the excellence of the Great Western’s iron road and their rolling stock.  Only one stop is made, and this of a very short duration, at Cardiff.

“Between the Fishguard of today and that of even a decade ago there is a great difference. A bay which boasted but of a departing or rather departed fishing industry, and was visited by only a few coastwise traders and fishing craft seeking shelter, has been converted into a splendid harbour, a harbour in which great natural advantages have been ably supplemented by the works which the Great Western Railway Company have constructed.

“At the quay by the railway station the splendid fleet of turbine steamers running between Fishguard and Rosslare (Ireland) are berthed, and here are the most modern appliances for the speedy transfer from ship to train, or vice versa, of goods and baggage.”

Although the ambitious plans for Fishguard were not to be, the Port continues to this day, providing crossings to Rosslare with the Superferry Stena Europe providing two daily crossings all year round.

Transport for Wales operate from Fishguard Harbour and have special trains to connect with the arrival and departures of the Stena Line Superferry Stena Europe that operates to/from Rosslare.

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