It’s a question our Toledo area dental patients routinely ask us at Dr. Poz — “I’m doing everything you suggested I do to take care of my teeth, so why did I still get a cavity?”
In this third of a multi-part series we will discuss important information on sugar and useful tips to improve your oral care.
Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years are often referred to as the most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, they are not so wonderful for your teeth, given the amount of sugary foods and treats — from fruit cakes and holiday cookies to Christmas candies — that are made and consumed during this slightly more than 30-day period. Below are some key sugar facts to understand its negative impact on your teeth as you go through the holidays.
Two types of sugars
Not all sugars have the same effect on your teeth. Sugars that are found naturally in foods like fruit are called intrinsic sugars. Sugars added to food by manufacturers, but which also include honey, syrup and fruit juices, are called free sugars. Generally speaking, intrinsic sugars are far less likely to cause tooth decay than free sugars which make up the majority ingredients for candy.
However, using this as a general guideline can lead to an assumption that some sugars are OK while other sugars are not so good for teeth. For example, although eating normal amounts of fruit are fine, drinking fruit juices as a substitute for real fruit has drawbacks. Most juices have added sugar extracted and concentrated from plant cells. And despite having more nutrients and containing only natural (not added) sugar, 100% fruit juice typically contains as much sugar and calories as a soft drink. The result is that heavy consumption of juice can cause decay.
How much sugar is OK
The amount of daily recommended sugar consumption varies by a person’s age and gender. The World Health Organization recommends free (added) sugars should ideally make up no more than 5% of your daily calorie intake. For toddlers and preschoolers this means not more than 4 teaspoons. Kids 4-8 not more than 3 teaspoons. For pre-teens and teenagers the daily limit is between 5-8 teaspoons. For adult women 6 teaspoons and men 9 teaspoons per day. (About eight teaspoons of sugar daily equates to approximately 30g of added sugar. By comparison, a 12 oz. can of Coke has 39g of sugar.)
Other Health Affects of Sugar
In addition to the oral effects of sugar consumption, there are other hidden health effects. For instance:
- Enjoying 8 oz of a sugary beverage each day for a year equals 55,000 calories or adding 15 lbs. a year!
- For children, drinking one 12 oz can of soda pop every day, increases their chance of becoming obese by 60%
Brush the sugar away!
Below are some key things to help you fight back against sugar’s harmful effects and improve your oral health care.
In addition to limiting your sugar intake, remember to brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, spit don’t rinse, eat and drink nothing after brushing. Easy!
Keeping these sweet tips in mind over the holidays can help decrease the number of cavities you get and improve your overall oral health.
If you have other questions about this blog or proper brushing and oral care, please contact us at Dr. Poz’s office or speak to one of the hygienists during your next visit.