How Would Taxes on Sugary Drinks Help in Reducing Oral Health Costs?

woman sipping soda

Australians may think twice before buying sweetened beverages if there would be an additional 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Queensland believe that imposing a tax on sugary drinks may reduce oral health expenses by around $670 million in a 10-year period. University Professor Marcin Sowa said that the tax could reduce the number of “decayed, missing and filled teeth by 3.9 million units”.

Pioneer Study

The study is the first of its kind, as it explored the impact of a sugar tax on dental health. According to Associate Professor Ratilal Lalloo, the tax would have a significant effect per person when it comes to preventing tooth decay. At the same time, it would minimise the need for emergency dental care.

Frequent consumption of sweetened beverages has been a major cause of dental cavities. Even when they already suffer from complications, some people still choose to skip an appointment out of fear that they are going to pay expensive fees. A survey of 2,000 Australians revealed that 41 per cent of them avoid the dentist on purpose because of associated costs.

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Avoiding the Dentist

Despite knowing that they need a major dental procedure, some of the respondents said they just ignore the problem. If costs bother you, it’s better to seek treatment in suburban and regional areas instead of the city. Those who live in Queensland might pay less when they go to a dental clinic in Townsville instead of Brisbane.

Note that a simple cavity may get worse if left untreated for too long. In 2016, more than 800 people died of oral cancer based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics

It’s better to reduce consumption of sugary beverages if you really can’t afford to see a dentist but remember that poor oral health becomes more expensive when you choose to postpone treatment for cavities.

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