How Sugar Can Harm Your Oral Health

If you read the headlines on a regular basis, you may have noticed a host of stories related to sugar consumption and its effect on oral and general health in the health section of the newspapers. Most of us are aware that eating lots of sweets or chocolate bars is bad for our teeth, but why is sugar so bad for oral health and what are the implications of high sugar consumption? Eating a lot of sugar increases the risk of dental diseases, including decay and bad breath because it contributes to erosion of the enamel. Enamel is the hard substance, which forms the outer layer of the teeth; although enamel is incredibly strong and durable, it can be weakened and sugar is the number one cause of acid erosion. When you eat sugary foods, bacteria in your mouth feed and this triggers a release of plaque acids; these acids erode the enamel, leaving the teeth and gums susceptible to damage and harm. One of the problems we face today is the addition of sugar to many mainstream, popular foods; it’s very obvious that foods like cakes and biscuits contain sugar, but you may not be aware that ready meals, fruit juice and smoothies and yoghurts are often also packed with sugar. The advice from Essex dentists is to look out for added sugars and to take time to read food labels and check sugar content. Another issue, which affects oral health, is your eating habits, as the frequency with which you eat can be as damaging as the actual types of food that you eat. When acids attack the enamel, it takes time for the enamel to recover through a process called remineralisation; if you eat constantly through the day, this process cannot occur and your enamel will effectively be under constant attack. Rather than grazing and snacking, we recommend eating three main meals per day and ensuring that you have any sweet treats or acidic drinks straight after a meal. It’s also advisable to keep an eye on how much sugar you consume per day; you can do this by keeping a food diary or using an app on your tablet or smart phone; the World Health Organisation suggests a daily sugar intake of no more than 10 per cent of your recommended calorie total for the day.