Sugar is in the news
The newspapers and tv are full of stories about reducing sugars, at last!!! We dentists have felt we have been lone voices nagging our patients for years! Great that the media has finally caught on.
The total amount of sugars we eat is very important to our general health, particularly our risk of Type 2 diabetes. Regarding the teeth, it is not just the quantity of sugars but HOW OFTEN those sugars are taken and in what form.
Even a small amount of carbohydrate ( including sugars) will allow the bacteria in plaque to produce acid. Half a teaspoon of sugar per cup of tea is as bad as 4 teaspoons per cup to your teeth. It is HOW MANY cups of tea per day that is the problem for teeth, just as HOW MANY times you snack on carbohydrates per day is the issue with teeth rather that the quantity. One packet of biscuits after a meal is better for your teeth rather than a biscuit every half hour throughout the day- the risk of type 2 diabetes is much the same.
There is also a misconception that ‘natural’ sugars are better than refined sugars, that fruit is better than sweets. This is not the case, sugar from any source is the same. Raisins are as bad as Haribos! Both are sticky and packed full of sugar.
Fruit and fruit juice have lots of vitamins that help keep us healthy but they should be kept to mealtimes.
All carbohydrates are changed to sugar in the mouth. This means even eating savoury snacks such as crisps between meals will increase your risk of tooth decay and type 2 diabetes. It is important to eat enough at mealtimes to last until the next meal.
What are ‘safe’ snacks? We all know what it is like, your child comes out of school starving and it is still an hour or more until tea time. What can you give them? The safe snacks are cheese and protein so having some cheese or a pack of cooked chicken pieces at the ready is great. This will fill them up for longer and give them the healthy food they need for growth.
Don’t forget the drinks! Eating sugary things such as sweets tends to decay the back teeth most. Drinking sugary drinks including pop, dilute squash, sugared hot drinks and natural fruit juices have a dramatic affect on the front teeth. If we see decay on front teeth we know the sugars are in drink form. We see dramatic and irreversible damage to front teeth in young people in particular, often all the front teeth on the top jaw are affected. Water and milk are safe drinks- keep to those between meals.