According to a new study published in PLOS Medicine, sugar industry lobbyists with close ties to the government changed the course of research into cavities during the 1960s and 70s. They wanted to prevent research into reducing sugar intake and instead encouraged the government to fund studies on other ways to prevent or eliminate cavities.
Documents Left by a Sugar Industry Insider
The study comes from the examination of more than 1500 pages of correspondence left by a University of Illinois professor who was also a member of the Sugar Research Foundation (now known as the Sugar Association).
They show that the sugar industry, aware that it couldn’t deny the link between sugar and cavities. Instead, they encouraged the National Institute of Dental Research (NIDR) to focus on other research possibilities.
In 1967, the NIDR had recommended modifying sugar intake guidelines as one of three key areas of research. However, by 1969, after correspondence with sugar industry advocates, the NIDR had decided that reducing sugar consumption among consumers was not practical and therefore the organization decided to focus on a number of other avenues of cavity prevention.
The sugar industry cultivated relationships with the NIDR and got many of its members on the panel deciding the direction that cavity research should take. They also offered funding for many of the studies in order to help influence the directions research should take.
As a result, more than three-quarters of the research priorities of the International Sugar Research Foundation (ISRF) were incorporated into the National Caries Program.
Where’s My Chocolate Vaccine?
Among the darling projects cofunded by the sugar industry and candy makers was the idea that there might be a vaccine for cavities. This was known to be a longshot, even in the 1970s, because vaccines are primarily effective against viruses, not bacteria that cause cavities. As a result, much government money was wasted, and, more importantly, time was wasted so that two generations of children grew up with more cavities than they should have had, and now are adults in need of reconstructive dentistry like tooth-colored fillings and dental crowns.
If you are one of these unfortunate adults, know that it’s never too late to take better care of your teeth, partly by reducing sugar consumption and partly by getting more regular check-ups and hygiene visits. And if you’re looking for a Philadelphia dentist who can treat the decay you’ve experienced, please call (610) 272-0828 for an appointment at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell today.