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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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Two Pembrokeshire residents honoured in King’s Birthday List



PEMBROKESHIRE is celebrating the achievements of two distinguished locals who have been recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours. John Fletcher, a dedicated farmer, and Professor Andrew Campbell, a prominent academic, have both been awarded the MBE for their respective contributions.

John Fletcher: Champion of Shire Horses

John Fletcher, 70, the founder of Gentle Giants Shires in Moylegrove, has been honoured with an MBE for his services to the conservation of shire horses. His journey with these majestic animals began at the tender age of nine on his parents’ farm at Penrallt Uchaf. Inspired by his father, who had previously used a shire horse for ploughing, young John developed a lifelong passion for the breed.

In 2003, following the sale of the farm’s milking herd, Gentle Giants was established. Today, the organisation boasts a global following of 69,000 on Facebook and provides shire horses for weddings, funerals, and other events across the UK. The Gentle Giants have also featured on several television shows, including “Don’t Tell the Bride” and “Coast and Country”, as well as in the award-winning film “Calon Gaeth”.

John’s dedication to shire horses has not gone unnoticed. In 2021, during a Royal visit to Nevern, he and his shire horse, Prince George, met His Royal Highness. The future King praised John’s efforts, expressing his gratitude and interest in the farm’s breeding programme.

Gentle Giants remains a family-run venture, and the Fletcher family took to social media to celebrate John’s accolade. They expressed immense pride in his tireless work and commitment to training and promoting shire horses. “Not one to take things easy, he always has a new project on the go,” they shared. “Buyers often return due to the high standards achieved by the horses he has trained.”

John’s influence extends beyond the UK, with his horses working and competing as far afield as Norway and Italy. He is passionate about educating the public on the versatility of shire horses and enjoys welcoming visitors to the farm in Pembrokeshire.

Professor Andrew Campbell: Advocate for Tourism

Also honoured with an MBE is Professor Andrew Campbell of Goodwick, recognised for his services to tourism. Professor Campbell, who describes himself as “passionate about tourism, cake baking and swimming in the sea,” has made significant contributions to the field.

A professor of practice in tourism with the University of Wales, he is currently the chair of the Welsh Government’s Economic Ministerial Advisory Board. Until September 2021, he served as chair of the Wales Tourism Alliance, representing over 6,000 tourism businesses throughout Wales. The Welsh Government describes him as “a respected academic within tourism, a key economic sector,” noting his valuable insights into the challenges facing the tourism and skills sectors.

Living and working in north Pembrokeshire, Professor Campbell is known for his hands-on approach and commitment to enhancing the region’s tourism landscape. His recognition in the King’s Birthday Honours underscores the importance of his work and his dedication to the community.

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GWR advises customers to check before travelling on Sunday 16 June



GWR is advising customers to check their journey tomorrow morning before leaving home because of a shortage of train crew.

With fewer people available to work, GWR is warning of short notice cancellations and alterations, especially on long distance services between London Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads.

Journey planners and other industry systems will not be correct until the early hours of Sunday morning, as GWR works to staff as many trains as possible – and customers are being warned that they will need to check their journey on Sunday morning.

If your train is cancelled, you can use your existing ticket on the next available service.

Rail replacement buses will operate on the Kemble line between Swindon and Gloucester.

GWR expects to run a full level of service on Monday 17 June.

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Falkland Islands flag raised in Milford Haven to mark Liberation Day



THE Falkland Islands Government flag was raised at Pembrokeshire County Hall and the British Legion in Milford Haven to commemorate Liberation Day, marking the end of the Falklands War on 14th June 1982. This solemn event was carried out by veterans of HMS Ardent, a Royal Navy frigate that played a crucial role in the conflict.

The Mayor of Milford Haven, Cllr William Elliott was joined by his mother, Mrs Wendy Elliott and the Deputy Mayor Cllr Eddie Davies for the HMS Ardent Association Flag Raising and Reception at Royal British Legion Club. Also in attendance were a number of Pembrokeshire County Councillors including Milford Haven’s Cllr Viv Stoddard, and Cllr Terry Davies.

On 21st May 1982, HMS Ardent was lying in Falkland Sound when it came under fire from the Argentine Air Force. Twenty-two of the 199 crew members on board were killed, and the ship sank the following day after suffering devastating damage.

As the first wave of Argentine aircraft attacked HMS Ardent, cook Jon Major threw himself to the floor and prayed. He survived, but 22 of his shipmates, including a close friend, did not, and dozens more were injured.

Speaking anniversary of the attack, Mr Major, then 62, recounted the terrifying moments. “Anyone who said they weren’t scared would be lying. It was extremely frightening,” he said. “We were all told to take cover when we saw the aircraft coming in. We all lay on the floor with our hands on top of our heads. When the first bombs hit, the whole ship shuddered. The first thing I did was pray.”

Mr Major was one of eight cooks onboard the Type 21 frigate. Three members of the close-knit team were killed. “Cooks were used for what is known as ‘defence watch’, watching out for incoming aircraft. It was eight hours on, eight hours off,” he explained. “When we were off-duty, we tried to get our heads down as best we could, but there was always something to do. We’d often be involved in moving shells and other ammunition around the ship.”

Mr Major was also a first-aider, although the scale of the damage inflicted in the raids meant he could do little to help. “Most of the damage was down aft (the back of the ship),” he said. “The bombs took out the galley. Because of the smoke, we couldn’t get down there.”

As the attack continued, the captain, Commander Alan West, gave the order to “abandon ship”. According to the official report into the loss of HMS Ardent, the ship “succumbed to two determined multi-aircraft attacks, which she had little chance of deflecting, and was seriously damaged”. The report added that the damage to the vessel would have been greater had a number of the bombs dropped not failed to explode.

Mr Major recalled, “To us, it all seemed to happen in seconds.”

Survivors of the attack were transferred to HMS Yarmouth and taken to South Georgia, before making the long voyage home where they were greeted by their families. “My mum and dad came down from Hull,” Mr Major said. “I remember just feeling numb.”

After returning to the UK, he and his fellow crew members were given four weeks’ “survivors leave” before being redeployed. “It was basically a case of ‘get on with the rest of your lives,'” he said. “Back then people didn’t really talk about mental health. I think it would have helped people if they had talked.”

Mr Major remained in the Royal Navy for another 20 years before leaving the service. “I had some great times, but I also had some pretty bad times, like losing 22 shipmates. It’s something you don’t forget,” he said.

Liberation Day commemorates the victory and liberation of the Falkland Islands from Argentine occupation, a conflict that lasted 74 days and concluded with the surrender of Argentine forces. The raising of the flag serves not only as a remembrance of those who perished but also as a celebration of the enduring freedom and sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.

The bond between Milford Haven and HMS Ardent remains strong, symbolising the town’s support for the Royal Navy and its dedication to remembering those who served and sacrificed. The flag-raising ceremony is a testament to the bravery of the crew of HMS Ardent and the resilience of the community that honours their memory.

In total, 255 British military personnel, three islanders, and 649 Argentine soldiers died during the 74-day Falklands War. A service to mark the 40th anniversary of the Falklands conflict will be held at 14:00 BST on 19th June at Hull Minster.

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