We all know that the food we eat and the drinks we consume can have an impact on our waistlines but often the effects they have on our dental wellbeing are overlooked.
How sugar affects our teeth
Latest figures show more than 3 in every 10 children starting primary school do so with tooth decay.
Enjoying a wide and balanced diet is important for people of all ages but particularly for children who should be encouraged to eat healthily from as young as possible. The food they are given at an early age will shape their adult eating patterns.
Sugar causes tooth decay because it is utilised by the bacteria in the mouth, resulting in the formation of acids which attack the enamel. It is not just the amount of sugar in food and drink that matters but how often there are sugary things in the mouth. Try to cut down how often you eat sugary food and drinks and limit them to mealtimes.
If you have any concerns about your or your child’s oral health, please speak to us. We are only too happy to help encourage tooth-kind eating and drinking habits that will last a lifetime.
How alcohol affects our teeth
The main threats to your teeth from alcoholic drinks are their high sugar content and acidity. The sugars are utilised by bacteria, resulting in acid formation which dissolves the enamel surface.
Those who mix alcohol with energy drinks should be especially careful because these can contain up to 16 teaspoons of sugar per pint and have higher acid levels than most other fizzy drinks - even the diet versions.
The dangers of energy drinks
These drinks have become an everyday drink for many teenagers and young people. The problem with them is they have a high sugar content and are usually acidic. Given that they are often sipped over a long period of time, the teeth are particularly at risk. Do question whether it is necessary for you or your child to have a sports drink during exercise as often water is the best option. In fact, we would recommend that the only liquid to have in a drinks bottle is water, except when taking part in endurance events, when sugary supplements should be carefully monitored.
Unlike tooth decay that is caused by bacteria, acid in food and drinks can damage theenamel surfaces of teeth, causing dental erosion.
Erosion of the edges of teeth is an issue for many of the patients we see. There is a simple solution and it’s called cosmetic bonding. This procedure is quick, inexpensive and minimally invasive. If you would like a demonstration, just ask at your next appointment and we will show you what can be achieved.
We can help
One of the best ways of keeping your mouth, teeth and gums in the peak of health is to visit your dentist and hygienist regularly, at least every six months. If you have any concerns, please give us a ring, or ask next time you visit and our team will be happy to help.
How can I avoid sugary foods?
Here are some tips for making better food choices:
- Avoid sugar-coated cereal and try not to put sugar on cereals
- Avoid using sweets as rewards – try to find an alternative!
- Avoid sweet drinks – even if they don’t contain sugar they encourage a sweet tooth
- Avoid dried fruit and concentrated fruit juices (unless heavily diluted). The sugar in dried fruit can cause decay if consumed frequently
- Avoid lollipops and hard sweets as they bathe the teeth in sugar for a considerable amount of time.
What can I do to counteract the damage done by energy drinks?
Cut down on the number of these drinks you have or better still, think twice before reaching for that next energy drink and have free, fluoridated tap water instead. Your wallet, body and mouth will thank you for it. Here are some tips for when temptation gets the better of you:
- If you do drink them, use a straw
- Don’t brush your teeth for an hour after consuming them as the acid temporarily softens tooth enamel and brushing too early will harm it
- Don’t drink them before bed
- Swish water around your mouth after each bottle