LOCALS have been overindulging on sugary treats during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to one Tamworth dentist.
Dr Michael Jonas believes working from home and the availability of foods of convenience has prompted locals to choose foods high in sugar.
"I wouldn't say I have seen the trend myself, but I have certainly been hearing about it because dentistry is still very much practicing at the moment," Dr Jonas told the Leader.
"We do hear people say often that they are spending more time at the fridge than they have before, binge eating more and stuff like that.
"There's no doubt about it, sugary food makes you feel good, but it's not good for your teeth."
The trend comes as new data from the NSW Australian Dentists Association (AHA) reveals 12,000 adults are currently waiting for public dental treatment in the Hunter New England health district.
Meanwhile, the Australian Oral Health Tracker shows one in three adults over the age of 15 have tooth decay and one in two Australians consumes too much sugar.
"It's not just your teeth that can feel the negative impacts of too much sugar," Dr Jonas said.
"Too much sugar can add excess weight, increase your chances of getting diabetes and a whole range of other issues.
"A lot of dental diseases are preventable, so to see so many on the wait list for treatment is a bit concerning."
Dr Jonas said it was critical for people to make healthy nutritional choices for the sake of their dental health.
"Foods of convenience are certainly becoming a lot more accessible," he said.
"We choose those foods because they are easy and often easy means high in sugar.
"It's a vicious cycle and there isn't much we can do about it because of the circumstances the world is in.
"All we can try to do is encourage people to choose healthy options such as fruit and vegetables."
The warning against sugar comes at the beginning of National Dental Health Week, which Dr Jonas the vice president of the AHA NSW said was the perfect time to remind locals to look after their teeth.
"The fact is, there are plenty of preventable hospitalisations for dental issues here in Tamworth and across the region every year," he said.
"All we can do is remind people of the risks that come with eating too much sugar and remind them of the benefits of making healthy choices.
"Hopefully, we can continue to push the message and help people make those healthy choices as this pandemic rolls on."