If you’re following our Facebook page you will have seen the very shocking story we shared this week on the New Zealand toddler who had to have teeth extracted due to their extreme decay.
The story has shocked us so much we have decided to discuss it in this article, not to persecute the parents, but to warn others of the dangers of the foods and drinks given to young children.
The scariest part of this story is that it is not a once off. The same dentist shares details on how he has extracted teeth on other young children due to the diets provided by parents.
Why are young children having teeth extracted?
Every year over 35,000 children under 12 have rotten teeth extracted due to excessively sugary diets. Parents are providing their children with sugary drinks and junk foods as frequent snacks. Some are even putting Milo in a baby bottle for the child to sip on overnight.
The negative talk about sugar in food and drink isn’t just limited to dental concerns; documentaries such as That Sugar Film and Fed Up discuss the impacts of a high sugar diet on your weight, overall health and wellbeing.
So with all of that attention do you really know how much sugar is in your daily diet? And… what is all that sugar doing to your teeth?
How much sugar is in your food?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends only 5% of your daily intake should consist of natural or added sugars. This is approximately 5-6 teaspoons (25g) for women and 7-8 teaspoons (35g) for men.
Let’s compare that to some ‘regular’ foods:
- A can of Coca-Cola contains 39g of sugar
- A 250ml can of Red Bull has 27g of sugar
- Fruit roll-ups average 14g of sugar each
- A small tub of strawberry yoghurt averages 27g of sugar (low fat still has 14g)
- 4 Oreos contain 14g of sugar
- 1 McDonald’s Oreo McFlurry has 73g of sugar
- 1 Uncle Toby’s Yoghurt Top Apricot Museli Bar (averaged to 50g) has 15g of sugar
- 1 Kelloggs LCMs Coco Pops Kaleidos Bar (averaged to 50g) has 20g of sugar
- 1 x Subway 6 inch Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sub on wheat bread with no extra sauce or cheese is 7.2% sugar – that is 19.15g of sugar. Add to that Sweet Onion Sauce at 21ml a serve and you are adding an additional 7.86g of sugar per serve.
So… what does all that sugar do to your teeth?
Put simply, sugar plays a large role in the formation of cavities. When you consume food, sugar is left in your mouth; the natural bacteria in your mouth causes plaque which lives on this sugar and produces decay-causing acids. As this eats away at the enamel on your teeth, holes are formed and before too long you are suffering from dental caries. If left too long this damage can spread to eat away at your teeth and cause harmful results.
Unfortunately, the plaque that grows in your mouth cannot be cleaned away by brushing and saliva, and as such it is important you seek a professional clean to remove it.
So, what can you do to avoid the damage?
Studies by the Newcastle University into the impacts of sugar on oral health found that those who have a daily sugar intake of less than 10% of total calories have much lower instances of tooth decay. They also say those with less than 5% daily intake would enjoy further benefits, including minimised risk of dental cavities throughout life.
Unfortunately the study also found that living in an area with fluoridated water or using fluoridated toothpaste does not stop dental cavities caused by diet.
So what does this mean?
Firstly, you should work to limit the sugar intake of yourself and your family to recommended health levels. This can take a bit of effort, however it really will make an impact on your life.
Secondly, it is important to ensure you aren’t providing your children with high sugar foods or drinks to graze on. That also applies to adults; stick to 3 meals a day and drink plenty of water in between. You can even chew on sugar-free gum to help produce saliva.
Finally, maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing daily, and visit your dentist for your six monthly check-up. This is where we will remove the plaque and tartar that gets built up and provide advice on how to correct any existing damage to prevent further decay.
If you’re interested in the original article we shared, you can view it on our Facebook page, or find it here.
To have your dental health assessed and ensure any damage by sugar is rectified call (03) 9571 9016 to arrange an appointment with our Carnegie Dental Practice.