Is sugar bad for my teeth?

I love sugar, it makes everything taste delicious. My weakness is chocolate; it should be its own food group.

But seriously, as a dentist and a type I diabetic I know that sugar is really bad for my teeth and overall wellness.

August 3 – 9, 2020 is dental health week and this years focus is ‘How much sugar is hiding in your trolley?’

Did you know that there are over 50 names for sugar and many food manufacturers use a range of these names? Some you may know and recognise easily, like honey, cane juice and brown sugar. But sugar can also be called things like maltodextrin, agave nectar and corn syrup.

The natural bacteria in your mouth need an energy source and sugar is their favourite. They consume the sugar and the by-product is an acid that can dissolve vital minerals from your teeth. Enough exposure and the teeth can’t remineralise fast enough and a tooth decay will start.

So let’s just call it out, sugar is not good for your teeth when you consume too much of it.

How much sugar should you eat? The maximum recommended daily amount by the WHO is 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men. But in Australia the average sugar consumed daily is around 14-16 teaspoons a day!

Here’s an example. One can of coke contains 9 teaspoons of sugar. That’s an entire days recommended sugar dose for men and too much for women. The stats in Australia say 73% of 14-18 year olds consume too much sugar and 47% of adults (18+) are consuming too much sugar.

What can you do about protecting your beautiful teeth against sugar and tooth decay? Maven dental has some very good advice to help make it easier.

Consciously eat less sugar and look at food labels and pick foods that ideally have less than 5g of sugar per 100g.

Drink a lot more water, it’s a good alternative to sweet laden drinks and it’s excellent at diluting the sugar in your mouth.

Brush and floss your teeth twice a day, ideally using a fluoride based toothpaste which combined with the calcium in your saliva, will help to remineralise your teeth daily.

And lastly visit your dentist for a regular checkup, less than 50% of Australian adults have had a check up in the past 12 months. Maybe it’s time to say hello to your dentist once these Covid restrictions allow some more freedom.

All the best, be kind, look after your health and stay safe. 

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