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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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Friends of west Wales museum aim to keep Bronze Age treasure local



THE FRIENDS of Ceredigion Museum in Aberystwyth are seeking support to keep a nationally important hoard of Bronze Age metalwork in the county.

The exciting find of more than 50 bronze tools, weapons and body ornaments was made by metal detectorists Craig Hearne and Kieran Slade in Llangeitho in 2020.

This find of a lifetime was declared as treasure by a coroner under the Treasure Act and an opportunity was given to purchase the hoard for the sum of £4,200.

The Friends of Ceredigion Museum are now raising the funds necessary to ensure that the treasure remains in Ceredigion.

Bronze Age hoards are exceptionally rare in in Ceredigion, where only two vague historical accounts of finds had previously been registered. Their discovery offers important new understanding of the styles and metalworking traditions in Ceredigion around 3,000 years ago.

Their burial represents a considerable gathering of people, choosing to gift their prized bronze objects into the ground, probably as an expression of deep held religious beliefs.

The location of the hoards was investigated by Dyfed Archaeological Trust soon after the finds were reported as treasure, with emergency funding provided by Cadw.

Carrie Canham, Ceredigion Museum curator, said: “We’re very excited at the prospect of keeping these unique and hugely important finds in Ceredigion.

“The hoard offers an important opportunity to glean more information about our prehistoric ancestors and we congratulate the Friends of Ceredigion Museum on their tireless efforts to keep this unique treasure in Ceredigion.”

Bronwen Morgan, Friends of Ceredigion Museum president, said: “This is exciting news about a unique and rare discovery from the Bronze Age in Ceredigion. It is a treasure in the true sense of the word and we are anxious to keep it in Ceredigion.

“We will do all that we can as Friends of Ceredigion Museum to raise the funds to ensure that we and the generations to come can preserve, see and appreciate our heritage in Ceredigion. These items have been in Ceredigion for about 3,000 years and we will now try and make sure that they remain here.”

To learn more and to support their efforts please visit the Friends of Ceredigion Museum website at

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Setting sail into the unknown: Edward’s epic journey from Milford Haven to Auckland



FOR Milford Haven resident Edward Neale, the inspiration to embark on an epic sailing journey across the globe germinated over many years. A seasoned sailor, he harbored dreams of venturing beyond European waters once retired. Little did he know that this desire would blossom into a remarkable voyage, taking him from the tranquil shores of Milford Haven to the vibrant city of Auckland.

Contrary to the trend of charitable sailing expeditions, Neale’s journey wasn’t motivated by a cause. Instead, it was fueled by a deep-seated desire to reunite with his daughter in Auckland, and the aspiration to achieve something profoundly memorable in the process.

Neale’s journey wasn’t his first encounter with the sea. His sailing roots trace back to the 1970s as a member of Milford Haven Sea Cadets, navigating Royal Navy boats and battling seasickness in the English Channel. His maritime journey continued through the merchant navy, sailing a 31ft Westerly Longbow in the 2000s, and culminated in the acquisition of his 38 ft motor sailor Light Symphony, in 2017.

Light Symphony, a 38ft motor sailor built by Austrian company Sunbeam, served as Neale’s steadfast companion. Acquired in 2017, he meticulously outfitted the vessel over two years in Milford Marina, transforming it into a seafaring haven. With two cabins, a well-equipped wheelhouse, and a spacious cockpit, the vessel endured the challenges of the open ocean, a testament to both craftsmanship and Neale’s determination.

Light Symphony on a three-day pause in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Neale’s extensive maritime background, including a four-year deck cadetship, RYA sailing qualification, and experience in the merchant navy, provided him with a solid foundation. Additionally, courses in handling medical emergencies at sea further fortified his readiness for the challenges that lay ahead.

Divided into four stages, the journey commenced in the summer of 2022. Neale’s wife, Janet, joined him for the initial stage to Portugal. Subsequent stages saw the company of friends Phil Jones and Phil Astles, with solo segments navigating the vast expanses of the Atlantic and Pacific.

Unexpected challenges arose, notably encounters with orcas off the coast of Spain. Neale recollects; ” When we reached Gijon in Spain we met a young couple with two small children who had experienced an encounter with orcas. This was a danger I was never expecting to have to deal with. A pod of orcas have taken it upon themselves to “attack” sailing boats by damaging the boat’s rudders, disabling the yachts and forcing them to be towed into port for repairs. There have been many “attacks” over the past few years, with three yachts being sunk when the damage to the rudders caused uncontrolled water ingress.”

Having not anticipated such a threat, Neale adjusted his course, navigating close to the coast to minimize the risk. The Pacific Ocean presented its own trials, with multiple instances of rigging failures requiring innovative repairs, showcasing Neale’s resilience and seamanship.

Choosing to navigate the Panama Canal without a local agent, Neale faced initial difficulties with the canal authority’s web platform. Despite setbacks, he persevered, hiring line handlers and overcoming the unique challenges of providing meals for advisors and crew during the transit.

Low points punctuated the journey during rigging failures, where the imminent collapse of the mast posed a threat to both speed and watertight integrity. Conversely, repairing the rig was a high point, instilling confidence for the remainder of the voyage. The ultimate high was reaching New Zealand, lifting the weight of sailing with a damaged rig.

Gale-force headwinds near New Zealand halted progress for 24 hours, testing both Neale and Light Symphony. The vessel weathered the storm, a testament to its seaworthiness and Neale’s navigational skill.

A failed battery charging system early in the voyage led to the loss of fresh food. Relying on tinned food, Neale made a crucial stop at Rarotonga for fresh supplies during a period of calm weather. The on-board water maker ensured an uninterrupted supply of fresh water.

Fishing attempts varied, with success in the Atlantic but disappointment in the Pacific. Neale’s resourcefulness extended beyond repairs to navigating the challenges of sourcing sustenance on the open sea.

From Milford to Auckland, the journey spanned several stages, totaling months at sea. The Pacific Ocean crossing alone consumed 73 days. While Neale had commitments, the voyage unfolded with a balance between purposeful progression and the unpredictable nature of the open ocean.

A daily blog chronicled Neale’s odyssey, providing a firsthand account of the challenges and triumphs. Expressing interest in its publication, the blog stands as a testament to the highs and lows of his maritime adventure.

Neale expressed gratitude to his former colleague Ian Swales, friend Denzil from Ratsey’s Sailmakers, his daughter Rosie for liaising with New Zealand authorities, and a special thank you to his wife Janet for enduring his prolonged absence and the stresses it entailed.

Having achieved his goals in long-distance sailing, Neale envisions future adventures on two wheels, leaning towards motorcycle touring as his next favored pastime.

In sharing his wisdom, Neale emphasizes the need for comprehensive preparation. From tools and spares to diverse knowledge on mechanics, navigation, and survival, he advocates self-sufficiency and a deep understanding of one’s vessel. Knowing the boat inside out, undertaking maintenance personally and being ready for anything are paramount for those aspiring to undertake similar odysseys.

Reflecting on the Pacific crossing, Neale expressed regret at the limited time to explore island groups, citing the need to stay ahead of cyclone seasons. Acknowledging the impact of seasonal timing on the voyage’s enjoyment, he recognizes the delicate balance between commitment and exploration.”

PICTURED ABOVE:  Arrival in New Zealand.  Edward, Rosie (daughter), Harry (Rosie’s partner)

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Jane Dodds MS supports Christmas Jumper Day



JANE DODDS MS for Mid and West Wales has supported Save the Children’s annual Christmas Jumper Day fundraiser on Thursday 7th December by donning their favourite festive knit.

Since 2012, the charity has raised more than £35 million for children around the world by calling on kindred-hearts to help make the world better with a sweater. Funds raised through Christmas Jumper Day will help children get access to food, healthcare, and education.

This year has been far from easy for families living on the lowest incomes in Wales, and part of the money raised will also go towards supporting Save the Children Cymru’s work in providing grants to buy food and essential household items and making sure children can thrive within their communities.

The charity hopes to make this Christmas Jumper Day the most sustainable and ‘green’ one yet and is urging everyone to dig out an old jumper and decorate it with festive trimmings, instead of buying a new jumper. Many schools and organisations are also holding a Christmas Jumper Swap Shop to save the environment, save money and save lives.

Jane Dodds MS has joined with thousands of others in all corners of Wales by wearing their Christmas jumper to promote the day.

Commenting, Jane Dodds MS said: “Everyone can take part in Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day on 7th December to support children across the globe.

Whether it’s adding decorations to an old jumper, re-wearing last year’s knit, or swapping a woolly with a friend, anything goes – and the more sustainable the better!”

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