Sugar and Decaying Teeth
You may be aware that your dentist doesn’t like too much sweet, and that’s probably because sugar creates cavities. But that’s not the truth in its entirety. Here, we’re going to discuss why sugar is so bad for your teeth. With dental decay, the most common ailment among people today, the labeling of sugar as “white poison” is no understatement.
There are many types of bacteria in your mouth; some healthy and others dangerous for your dental health. However, it attracts dangerous germs and generates acids when you have sugar. These sugar-powered acids destroy minerals from the tooth enamel, which is your teeth’s outer protective coat.
The recurring use of sugar, over time, attacks, weakens and ultimately kills the enamel that poses a risk of dental decay and then cavities. If this is neglected or left untreated, cavities can eventually expand, causing severe gum diseases and potential tooth loss.
Sugar and Dental Decay
Sugar attracts nasty germs and decreases the pH in your mouth. It’s like a terrible bacteria magnet. Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sorbrinus are the two harmful bacteria found in the mouth. They both feast on the sugar you are eating and make dental plaque, a sticky, white film that grows on the teeth’s surface.
If the plaque is not cleaned by saliva or brushing, the oral environment becomes acidified and cavities might begin to form. The pH scale assesses whether a solution is acidic or basic, with 7 being neutral. When the plaque pH falls below normal or less than 5.5, acidity begins to breakdown minerals and erodes the enamel of the tooth. Small holes or erosions are formed in the process. Over time, it grows until a huge hole or cavity emerges.
Food and beverage sugars play a crucial impact in the development of tooth decay. Bacteria consume sugar as energy in the plaque and emit acid as a waste material, which progressively destroys the enamel in the teeth. In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) commissioned a literature assessment in order to answer a number of questions regarding the relation between dental caries and sugar.
The systematic review found that the association between the amount of sugar intake and the development of dental caries was of intermediate quality. There have also been moderate quality data showing dental cavities are lower when the intake of free sugar is less than 10% of the calorie intake.
Dental cavities progress with age, and sweets have a lifelong influence on the teeth. Even modest caries levels in childhood are important to caries levels throughout life. Data analysis reveals that sugars can be reduced to less than 5% of calorie intake to prevent the incidence of dental cavities throughout life.
Moreover, a draught report recently published in the UK by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition in 2014 identified a clear link between the intakes of sugar-containing food and sugar-containing beverage and the occurrence of dental caries both in deciduous and permanent teeth.
SACN analysed 11 cohort studies that established the link between sugar-containing food consumption and the occurrence of dental caries in deciduous dentition in children. They also analysed seven cohort studies that demonstrated the association between children’s tooth decay and sugary drinks. There has also been a higher consumption rate connected with higher dental caries incidence.
Free sugar is currently prevalent in most food products and is the most significant cause in dental health degradation. It is particularly harmful in children who are used to sweets at an early age. Tooth decay is rampant among 5-9-year-olds in the United Kingdom where 26,000 children gets hospitalised every year, owing to tooth decay — 500 each week.
Who is vulnerable to dental decay?
Everyone is at danger of tooth decay, but children and teenagers are at greatest risk. Dental cavities in young persons are the most common cause of tooth loss. Only 20 minutes after we start eating, plaque starts to build up on teeth and if not efficiently removed, tooth decay occurs. People who consume sugar regularly are at increased risk of caries, especially if the food they eat is sticky or ingested between meals.
In particular, sugar-containing foods and sugar-sweetened beverages affect the teeth. People who smoke and use alcohol are more vulnerable as well. The prevalence of dental cavity is also related to social factors – where persons in households on lower income are more likely to suffer from dental caries than households on higher income; the percentage being 37% against 26%.
Other techniques to decrease dental decay include:
- Brushing your teeth with fluoride-containing toothpaste twice a day and flossing regularly.
- Reduce the amount of sticky food containing sugar and rinse your mouth with water.
- Reduce snacking on sugar containing snacks; this helps to reduce oral acid production.
- Reduce sugar-sweetened drink consumption.
- Only eat sugar during meals.
In our diets, we consume far too much sugar sometimes knowingly and sometimes unknowingly. The research published by the WHO and SACN underlines the need to reduce the intake of sugar to five percent of our daily energy consumption. For an adult, this is comparable to around seven teaspoons per day or 30 g of sugar per day. The recommended is twenty four grams in case of children falling within the age bracket 5 to 11 years and nineteen grams for children of the age 4-6 years.
This 5% restriction is substantially below the current intake of 11.9% in children of age group 1.5 to 3 years old, 14.7% in children of age 4 to 10 years old and 15.6% in children of age 11 to 18 years old. The adherence to the recommended five percent intake of sugar is also believed to stop the overall rate.
Why added sugar is the WORST
It is important to realise that foods with added sugars are worse for your teeth than those with natural sugars such as fruit and milk. Adding sugar may increase the sugar level in foods, which increases the likelihood of feeding on detrimental oral bacteria.
In natural diets, sugar is balanced with fluids that help to wash away sugars, proteins that feed other bacteria and fibers which compel us to chew, promote the creation of saliva that is used to wash away sweets and also to kill bacteria’s.
Sugars that have been added can often form a sticker around the teeth. For example, caramel sugar becomes a polymer that attaches to your teeth and becomes an excellent food source for the bacteria.
Apart from completely avoiding sugar
There are a lot of methods you can try to reduce your intake of sugar and it is –
- The natural process known as remineralisation, the replacement of minerals to enhance your enamel with saliva, should first of all be promoted.
- You can do that by chewing sugarless gum (sugarless solely), boosting saliva production to make sure you get plenty of fluoride, and consume fibrous fruits and vegetables, which stimulate saliva when you chew.
- In addition, eating dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt aid to remineralise your teeth because it contains phosphates and calcium that can reinforce your enamel.
Some alternative ways make your diet sugar free
- Minimise your bread intake as starch has quite high sugar content.
- Drinking water is also important while eating something starchy, sweet or sticky. When you drink water after and while you eat, you instantly wash away these food particles and reduce the odds that they stick onto your teeth and are fed by bacteria.
- Finally, basic oral health practices like brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day are essential in order to reduce your risk of acquiring cavities.
- Regular check-ups and cleaning are also a crucial element of maintaining your mouth free.
It’s not good to eat too much sugar although it is a source of instant energy for the body, mind and naturally occurs in many healthy foods. It is vital to remember that during processing it regularly gets included into many food products and drinks and is inadvertently used. In addition, over-consumption of sugar can lead to several physical problems, including obesity and teeth damage.