Even after decades focusing on oral hygiene and fluoride to fight dental disease, Australia is seeing an increase in tooth decay, particularly among children. What is responsible for this?
Many in the dental and medical professions link this and other health problems to an increase in our consumption of sugar.
A number of years ago the annual average consumption of added sugar for a single Australian was about 4 pounds per person. Today, it’s closer to 90 pounds.
The increase in sugar consumption can be traced to the 1970s when the food industry began adding more sugar to make processed foods stripped of oils and fats taste better. While these foods may taste a little better, they are also implicated in poor dental and general health.
This is why, at Comfort Dental Centre, we want to help you cut your sugar consumption back to a healthy level.
Sugar and Dental Health
Bacteria in the mouth convert lingering food particles—namely sugar and starchy carbohydrates—into acid. Together the acid and bacteria join forces with the stuck bits of food and saliva to form a sticky substance, known as plaque. Plaque, as you may be aware is the initiating factor in tooth decay. Plaque is rich in acids that dissolve the protective coating of enamel on your teeth, creating cavities, which can lead to a host of other dental problems.
How Sugar Affects Overall Health
When sugar touches your tongue your taste buds it sends a message straight to your brain: “This is delicious!” Your brain releases dopamine, and you feel a “reward.” But while you are enjoying the taste, the sugar you swallowed ends up in your stomach, where it mixes with digestive juices and is moved along to your small intestine. Here it begins to have its effects on your body
Unfortunately, most of those effects are bad ones. When eaten in large amounts, sugar can damage your entire body. Over time, that damage can result in diabetes and obesity, and can also contribute to Alzheimer’s disease as well as breast, endometrial and colon cancers. One new study found that people who heavily consumed sugar doubled their risk of dying from heart disease even though they were within a healthy weight range. Other research pinpoints excess sugar as a major cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which can lead to liver failure.
How to Cut Back
The good news is that cutting down on sugar may be easier than you think:
- Eliminate table sugar (white and brown), syrup, honey and molasses. Cut back how much sugar you add to things you eat or drink regularly like cereal, pancakes, coffee, or tea – for many people this cuts sugar consumption dramatically.
- Compare food labels and choose products with the lowest amounts of added sugars. Added sugars can be identified in the ingredients list. Look out for “hidden” sugars, or sugar listed several times. There are at least 61 different names for sugar listed on food labels. These include common names, such as sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, barley malt, dextrose, maltose and rice syrup, and many others.
- Eat fresh, frozen, dried, or canned fruits. Fruit canned in water or natural juice is the best choice. Avoid fruit canned in syrup, especially heavy syrup, which is basically liquid sugar. Drain and rinse canned fruit to remove excess syrup or juice.
- Say no to soda. Drink sugar-free or low-calorie beverages. Water is always the best choice!
- Cook with less sugar. When baking or cooking, cut the sugar called for in your recipe by one-third to one-half. Switch out sugar with unsweetened applesauce in recipes (use equal amounts). Often you won’t notice the difference. Also, make fewer recipes that call for sugar.
- Avoid the habits that cause you to consume sugar. Be careful of parties and holidays – prepare your own foods. Also, if you are in the habit of eating while reading, watching TV, etc., try to cut down on how much you eat or swap in less sugary snacks.
- Practice GREAT dental care by drinking water after consuming sugar, brushing and flossing regularly, and visiting your Comfort Dental Centre dentist at least twice a year. At Comfort Dental Centre we can head off any damage that sugar might do, and help you with strategies to cut back on it.
Your Trusted Dentist in Buderim
At Comfort Dental Centre Buderim, our goal is to provide the highest quality of cosmetic, restorative, and preventive dental care, in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, with a commitment to excellent customer service. From toothpaste to cosmetic dentistry our team is unlike any other health care office you have visited!
We are conveniently located on Wises Road near the Sunshine Motorway with convenient parking and we are open six days a week!