Summertime is the season to enjoy more BBQs, try a juice cleanse or attempt to switch to a healthier diet. But did you know that all of these activities often come with an unhealthy dose of added sugar?
In the last 20 years, sugar consumption in the UK has increased by 31 percent. Consumption of carbonated drinks has increased 100 percent over the past 15 years and one third of British children under the age of nine are now thought to be clinically obese. These shocking statistics have led to increased media exposure and attention to the dangers of sugar – with it often being described as addictive as alcohol or tobacco. However, even with this increased exposure the amount of sugar we consume is still set to increase, having damaging effects on your dental health.
What Effect Does Sugar Have On Your Teeth?
Refined sugars have no nutritional value and are not required by our bodies yet they are present in a large number of our foods. Worse still, they are often not obvious and can be ‘hidden’ within ingredients lists. You may be unaware of the sugar levels that are in foods and drinks you consume. And it is often the case that low-fat products will have an increased amount of sugar.
Regardless of the reasons behind it, over consumption of sugar has a negative impact on your health, increasing your chance of developing type two diabetes and other health problems. It also has a damaging effect on your dental health. Bacteria in your mouth use the energy from sugar to produce acids that damage and dissolve your teeth. Over periods of time, repeat attacks of sugar will start to erode your teeth, dissolving the outer and eventually the inner surfaces of your tooth. Regular loss of your tooth enamel can lead to cavities and the need for root canal treatment.
How Can You Decrease Your Sugar Consumption?
Sauces & Condiments
You may be completely unaware of the amount of added sugar present on your condiment shelf. A standard 100g bottle of tomato ketchup can be nearly a quarter sugar and 100g bottle of BBQ sauce can contain around 33g of sugar. If you opt for a low-fat mayonnaise over a full-fat version then you should be aware that a 100g bottle of low-fat mayonnaise can contain as much as 20g of sugar. Other sugar heavy condiments include honey mustard and tartar sauce.
Alternative: To cut down you sugar intake you can switch to low-sugar alternatives. Examples are, yellow mustard, mashed avocado, or homemade tomato salsa (made by mixing fresh tomatoes, olive oil and basil). Where you can you should use just one tablespoon of sauce to help cut down your sugar intake.
Juice Cleanses and Diet Plans
If you are thinking of starting a juice cleanse this Summer you should be aware of the amount of sugar that is present in juice and diet cleanse packs. Some packs include three to four times as much as sugar as the recommended daily allowance. This amount of sugar can increase your chances of developing tooth decay. If you are considering a juice cleanse or adopting juicing into your diet you should always drink them through a straw and wait half an hour to an hour before brushing your teeth.
If you are considering a low-carb, protein-high diet you should be aware that this process can cause your body to go into a state of ketosis. In this state the body produces chemicals which can cause bad breath. Ketosis is caused entirely through diet choices and cannot be resolved with brushing and flossing.
Sudden changes in diet can put stress on your body and dental health. You should always speak with your doctor before undergoing any diet plans. Remember that a balanced diet and regular exercise is the recommended way for staying in shape.
Many healthy breakfast options have a high sugar content. Breakfast bars, breakfast cereals and instant porridge pots have been found to contain as much as a third of an adult’s recommended daily amount. Low fat yoghurts can also be a haven for added sugar. A recent analysis found a standard 150g pot of a leading yoghurt brand contained over 20g of sugar and adding dried fruits into the mix increases this again. Coupled with the sugar in your tea and coffee and you can be well on your way to reaching your daily recommended sugar allowance before lunchtime. Not only is this damaging for your teeth but sudden spikes of sugar into the blood will result in a short burst of energy followed by a slump which can affect your concentration.
Alternative: To decrease your sugar intake in the morning you should switch to a protein rich option such as eggs. The Vitamin D found in egg yolks helps your body absorb calcium, which is required to build and maintain healthy teeth. Switching out sugary breakfast items for protein will also help you to eliminate your post-sugar slump and decrease your chance of developing tooth decay. You should also look to change your habits with coffee and tea by slowly decreasing the amount of sugar you add to them. Over time your body will adjust to the new taste.
Looking After Your Teeth
Your dental care routine should always be a priority in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Regular visits to your dentist and dental hygienist will help keep your teeth free from potential dental problems including plaque and tooth decay. Not only that, but your dental team will be able to advise you on how you can improve your dental health through changing your diet and lifestyle choices.
If you are looking to improve the appearance of your smile then you may be interested in reading about the cosmetic dentistry treatments offered at The Berekley Clinic. Our dental practice in Glasgow is a multi-award winning centre for cosmetic and restorative dentistry and provide our own dental anxiety management service.
For more information you can call us on 0141 564 1900 or visit our contact us page.
Tags: Berkeley, Dental, dental care, Dental Health, dental healthcare, Dentist, Diet, Glasgow, healthy breakfasts, healthy teeth, hidden sugars, looking after your teeth, Sugar, sugar alternatives, tooth decay