Effect of Sugar on Teeth

Stop eating sugar!

I don’t think it comes as a great surprise to most people that sugar has a negative impact on our bodies. Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows that it is not only fat that you need to reduce in your food to lose weight. Sugar has a big impact as well. What you may not realise though is just how much damage it is causing our teeth. Read Edward Tay’s article to find out more.


Is sugar effecting the UK’s  oral hygiene?

The consumption of sugar in the diet has never been higher in our modern world today. Tooth decay is the primary reason for hospitalisation in children. Though we cannot blame the food and beverage industry entirely, they do have to take a sizable portion of the blame. If decisive action is not taken promptly, then all of the citizen’s dental health, not just children’s, will continue to suffer consequences.

In the UK, statistics have shown that 26,000 primary school children were admitted to hospital due to tooth decay in the year 2014, with children tooth extractions costing the NHS around £30 million per year. The key cause being tooth decay.

Added sugars have no nutritional value. They are not only the cause of tooth decay, which has seen hospital admissions among young children sky-rocket in recent years but also a leading factor in general health conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

Tooth decay occurs when sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque. Acids are formed that attack the teeth and destroy the enamel. Dentists know this phenomenon well based on the Stephen’s curve. When the pH drops less than 5.5 due to the by-products build up from the bacteria, teeth start to decay. When this happens over and over again, the tooth enamel may break down, forming a ‘cavity’ or hole in the tooth.

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When there is a cavity formed, the oral hygiene process would be very hard to achieve and thus, this would justify dental restorations to be placed. That is the reason tooth decay with a cavity present always leads to fillings and sometimes leads to teeth needing to be taken out.

Early tooth decay can have no visible symptoms, but the dental team may be able to detect a cavity in its early stages when they examine your oral cavity. During the initial phase of decay known as “white spot lesion,” the process is still reversible with the use of professionally applied topical fluoride and dietary advice. Therefore, you should visit your dental team regularly, as small cavities are much easier to treat than advanced decay.

Advice from the Professionals

The British Dental Health Foundation endorses the following recommendations for dental health, include:

  1. Legislation of the responsibility deal allowing the government to set guidelines that must legally be followed by the food and drinks industry.
  2. A 20p levy per litre on every soft drink containing added sugar.
  3. Implemented of penalties to any food and drink companies that do not reach the targets.
  4. Creation of robust digital marketing regulations on junk food to cover all non-broadcast media.
  5. The extension of regulations banning junk food marketing on televisions to 9 pm.
  6. Making traffic light labelling compulsory on all packaging.
  7. Showing sugar content in teaspoons on the front of packaging.

Today, we realise that prevention is better than cure. That is why looking after our diet, and oral self-care is crucial in preventing oral diseases such as dental decay, gum inflammations and other pathologies. It is important that parents teach their children proper techniques of tooth brushing and flossing since they are young to cultivate this habit.

Mothers should stop bottle feeding when the infant turns 1-year-old, as the extrinsic sugar contained in the formula milk given to the child for extensive hours can lead to the sugary challenge to the teeth.

In summary, there are two types of sugar, namely intrinsic and extrinsic sugar. The intrinsic sugar is such that ate contained in natural food such as fruits, whereas the extrinsic sugars are found mostly in processed foods. Sugary foods, in general, ought to be avoided for our own dental health’s sake.

Further Reading:

British Dental Health Foundation responds to the SACN report

Sugar is devastating our teeth

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