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Cut the Sugar, Cut the Cavities: Harmful Effect of Sugar on Teeth

January 10, 2014

It’s time to cut the sugar and not just the calories. There is new evidence of the harmful effect of sugar on teeth. A study by Newcastle University researchers into the effects of sugars on our oral health recommends cutting down on the sweet additive as part of a global initiative to reduce tooth decay.

The study, commissioned by the World Health Organization, was published in the Journal of Dental Research and reflected the finding that when less than 10% of total calories in the diet is made up of free sugars there are much lower levels of tooth decay.

Free sugars are the sugars added to foods by manufacturers, cooks, or consumers and those that are naturally present in fruits we eat.

Cut the Sugars to Keep Teeth for Life

Since 1990 the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that intake of "free sugars" should be less than 10% of total energy (calorie) intake. The research findings show that halving this threshold for sugars to less than 5% of calories -- around five teaspoons a day -- would bring further benefits, minimizing the risk of dental cavities throughout life. They claim halving the 10-teaspoon level would allow people to keep their teeth for life.

Be Mindful of the Sugar

Paula Moynihan, Professor of Nutrition and Oral Health at Newcastle University said:

“Part of the problem is that sugary foods and drinks are now staples in many people’s diet in industrialized countries, whereas once they were an occasional treat for a birthday or Christmas. We need to reverse this trend.

“People now expect to keep their teeth into old age and given that the effects of sugars on our teeth are lifelong then limiting sugars to less than 5 per cent of the calories we eat would minimize the risk of dental caries throughout life.” (source)

**Researchers looked at 55 dental health studies dating back to the 1950s.

Sugar plays a harmful role in tooth decay. The bacteria that causes plaque can use sugar as a form of energy. They multiply faster and the plaque grows in size and thickness. Some of the bacteria turn the sugar into a kind of glue that they use to stick themselves to the tooth surface. This makes it harder for the bacteria to get washed away with your saliva. Each time you eat a snack containing sugar or starch (carbohydrates), the resulting acid attack on your teeth can last up to 20 minutes, and a lot of snacks and drinks contain sugar.

According to Healthy Teeth, here are some of the sugar content equivalent of some foods we usually eat: Chocolate Cake: 4 oz piece —10 tsp. of sugar Chocolate Eclaire: 1 — 7 tsp. of sugar Chocolate mints: 1 piece — 23 tsp. of sugar Cream puff (iced): 1 — 25 tsp. of sugar Donut: 1 — Up to 34 tsp. of sugar Fruitopia fruit drink: 20 oz size — Up to 17 tsp. of sugar Fudge: 1 oz square — 4.5 tsp. of sugar Hard candy: 4 oz piece — 20 tsp. of sugar Peanut brittle: 1 oz — 3.5 tsp. of sugar Raisins: Half-cup — 4 tsp. of sugar Sherbet: 1 scoop — 9 tsp. of sugar Slice of berry Pie: 1 slice — 10 tsp. of sugar "Slush" frozen drink: 32 oz size — 28 tsp. of sugar Soda pop: 12 oz size — Up to 10 tsp. of sugar Sunkist Orange Soda: 12 oz size — 13 tsp. of sugar

What You Can Do

Oral hygiene needs to be consistently done for it to be effective. Diet plays a big role in preventing tooth decay too.

Prevention is Better Than the Cure

Dr. Reese knows the importance the role of dental health promotion and prevention, practicing integrative dentistry through fluoride-free cleanings and other services designed to help his patients keep their teeth cavity-free for many years to come. Together with his dental services, the clinic offers dental products that help keep your teeth, mouth and gums healthy and prevent diseases. Call 317-882-0228 to order by phone and have it shipped. You can also schedule an appointment today!