It seems that you cannot skip a channel or click a link these days without seeing warnings about the dangers of sugar. With Tesco removing certain sizes of Ribena from its shelves and Jamie Oliver waging “absolute war” on the substance; it seems we may have reached peak sugar-fear.
Aside from the other numerous health dangers we all know that the teeth can take a real bashing from sugar. However it’s not actually sugar itself that damages the teeth but acid produced by bacteria in the mouth. This acid is produced when the bacteria break down sugar. So the more sugar consumed, the more teeth damaging acid in the mouth. Ideally, the less sugar we can eat, the better. The daily maximum amount of sugar an adult should consume is approximately 30g for an adult, 19 g for 4-6 year olds and 24g for 7 – 10 year olds. We know how hard it is to avoid sugar, whether it’s that 4 pm slump in the office or the break-up therapy tub of Ice cream. It’s even harder to keep it away from the little ones if you have kids. So here are some tips to minimize the damage:
Timing is key. The golden rule with sugar is that the longer it is in contact with your mouth the more damage that can be caused. Eating sugary foods with main meals is the best option. If you must snack try to only do it a few times a day.
Try to avoid fruit juices because the damaging sugar contained within fruit is released when juiced. Try to consume only 150 ml a fruit juice a day. Avoid beverages labelled “juice drink” as these tend to be higher in sugar, but lower in actual fruit content.
Fresh fruit is better than dried because dried fruit can stick to your teeth causing more damage.
You can also purchase low acid orange juices these days.
Try to brush after consuming sugary foods but not directly after, wait at least an hour because the enamel is softened at this point. Use a mouthwash that contains fluoride or if you don’t have any, swilling with water will still help.
Chewing sugar-free gum will help to clean the teeth and will also cause production of more saliva which will aid the process.
Using a straw when drinking fruit juice or other sugary drinks can also help.
Drinking milk or eating a piece of cheese after meals can help limit damage by cancelling out some of the acid in the mouth .
So next time you feel like a spoon full of sugar, remember our helpful tips.