Is Sugar Bad For My Teeth?
The consumption of sugar is a hot topic at present. But is it bad for your teeth?
For years dentists have been harping on about the adverse effects of sugar as it is well established that sugar is a causative factor in dental decay. In brief, bacteria present in plaque on the tooth surface convert fermentable sugars (such as those found in carbohydrates, fruit and dairy products) into lactic acid, which in turn makes the plaque acidic and subsequently causes demineralisation of the tooth surface.
How much sugar can I actually have a day?
WHO recommends we consume a maximum of 6 teaspoons of free sugar per day. Free sugars include all hidden added sugars to food and drink as well as sugars occurring naturally in fruit juices, syrup and honey but excludes sugars found in fruit, vegetables and milk.
But this may be harder than we think as hidden sugar is present in many packaged foods including breakfast cereals, yoghurts, sauce, juices, processed meat and canned food to name a few.
100g of tomato sauce contains approximately 7 teaspoons of sugar
150g small pottle of fruit yoghurt contains approximately 3 teaspoons of sugar
One can of fizzy drink contains approximately 11 teaspoons of sugar
It has also been suggested that sugar can also contribute to type II diabetes and obesity due to the bodies inability to metabolise fructose.
Tooth decay & Sugar drinks
Our mouths are full of bacteria. Some of these bacteria feed on the sugars present in food and drinks producing acid. If this acid is not neutralised by the minerals present in our saliva or by fluoride in toothpaste, the acid can destroy the tooth surface by creating cavities. As sweetened beverages contain a high percentage of sugar, these drinks are likely to cause damage to our teeth.
Are fruit juices harmful to my teeth?
Not only can the sugar in fruit juices cause harm to our teeth, their highly acidic composition can also cause erosion. When we eat or drink something acidic, our enamel becomes softer. Usually the acid attack is neutralised by our saliva but if the acid attack is prolonged or occurs frequently, it can lead to the loss of tooth structure. This is why we shouldn’t sip on acidic beverages such as fruit juices or soft drinks for prolonged periods of time.
So which beverages can be harmful to my teeth?
The table below shows the pH of common beverages. Any food or drink that has a pH of less than 5.5 can harm our teeth due to its acidity (this is all fruit juices):
|Cranberry Juice||2.3 – 2.52|
|Sparkling Water||5 – 6|
|Milk||6.4 – 6.8|
Sugar affects my teeth – What should I do?
As well as reducing our sugar intake, there are several other things we can do to maintain our oral health and prevent dental decay:
- Lowering our sugar intake where you can. Try these refined sugar free snacks. So Yum!
- Drinking plain tap water rather than soft drinks (it is cheaper too!).
- Minimising the consumption of acidic beverages such as juices, sparkling water and wine due to the risk of erosion.
- Seeing a dentist regularly for a check up. This allows any issues to be picked up and treated early.
- Visiting the hygienist regularly. This prevents and manages gum disease which if left untreated can lead to the early loss of teeth.
- Brushing x 2 daily with a fluoride toothpaste and using floss or interdental aids daily.
The Friendly team at The Smile Co will answer any questions or queries you may have about Sugar. Maybe it’s time you came for your check-up today? Call us to book a consultation: 033661948