29 May 2015  •  Dental Health  •  5min read

Supporting National Smile Month with the #PPSugarFree Challenge

National Smile Month is both the longest running and largest oral health campaign in the UK. Taking place this year from 18th May until 18th June, the campaign focuses on three key elements:

1. Brushing your teeth last thing at night and on at least one other occasion with a fluoride toothpaste.
2. Cutting down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks.
3. Visiting your dentist regularly, as often as they recommend.

As you’d expect from people in the dental industry, we’re pretty good at points one and three, but the big question was, how well could we manage point two? Determined to find out, a team of ten willing volunteers decided to give the #PPSugarFree Challenge a go.

Following each week of the challenge, the team will complete individual questionnaires that will help us gauge how they’re finding the challenge and whether they’ve been sticking to it and help us to highlight some of the handy tips and tricks that the team have employed to bypass their ‘sugar fixes’.

So, why not read on to find out how the team are getting on now the second week of the challenge is over…

It won’t come as a surprise that the majority of the team reported that they were finding the challenge moderately difficult. In fact, only one has found it easy and another finding it so hard that they hadn’t managed to reduce their intake at all! With the average difficulty score being three out of five, we’re hopeful that they’ll push on through!

Sugar cuts

Sugar Cuts

Almost all of the team mentioned that they’d stopped taking sugar in their tea and coffee and have replaced sweets with sugar-free versions or sugar-free gum instead, but some have gone even further.

For instance, Debbie Maddocks from our Regulatory Team has replaced sweets, soft drinks and cakes with sugar-free versions and cut out mayo and wine too, plus Janette Hyde from Accounts has gone as far as completely cutting out all processed foods from her diet.

Healthier and happier

At the end of week two, 59% of the team members report no difference in how healthy they feel, whereas 39% say that by reducing their sugar consumption they do feel healthier.

Just over one quarter of the team say that they definitely feel happier since starting the challenge, with the remaining three quarters remaining just as happy as they previously were!

Food labels

Food labels

81% of our participants said that they were paying more attention to food labels since beginning the challenge, with only 19% saying they weren’t.


Approximately three quarters of those taking part in the challenge admitted to some cravings during the last two weeks, but what were they? Here’s a couple that the team shared with us:

Laura Byrne: “I walked past a fresh donut stand today – the smell was intoxicating! Extra will power was definitely required to keep on walking.”

Matt Owen: “As I write this, a big chocolate cake has just been placed next to me. So…yes, chocolate cake!”

The Bank Holiday was too much for Charlotte Hampson, who by her own admission, “Caved over the Bank Holiday with tomato ketchup and sweets.”

Following the challenge

sugar freeSo far, 90% of the team said that they’d continue to go sugar free for certain items of food and drink once the challenge is over and 100% of our challengers said they’d encourage others to cut down on their sugar too!

Sugar-free tips

We had a huge response to what tips the team had to offer, so we’ve selected some of our favourites for this week!

Janette Hyde: “Have a menu plan set up for the week and try to stick to it, it will get easier.”

Matt Owen: “To visualise how much sugar is in a particular food, remember that 4g of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon. For me, 4g of anything doesn’t sound like much, but converting it into teaspoons gives it some physical context.”

Victoria Barker: “Give the chocolate a good long stare and then you won’t want to eat it!”

Debbie Maddocks: “Ensure you have alternative snacks available to address cravings.”

All in all, everyone is feeling really positive about their first two weeks of the challenge, but keep an eye out for the rest of our #PPSugarFree blogs, the story may not stay so sweet for long!

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