The Battle Between Sweet– and Your Teeth

132244825_dbf0e21d9f_oIt isn’t true for patients of Lakewood, CO dentists Drs. Matheson, Skinner, or Sefcik– but did you know that in all of the USA 92% of adults have had cavities in at least one of their permanent teeth? This shocking number is believed to be directly related to a high intake of sugar.

Researchers call for greater restrictions

Researchers in at the University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in Britain have been busy looking at the dental caries (cavities) problem in countries around the world. Their latest conclusion? That the World Health Organization needs to halve its current recommended daily allowance of sugar– from 10% of total daily calories to 5%. The researchers believe that the ultimate goal should actually be no more than 3% of daily calories from sugar.

Let the records show:

Supporting this recommendation are the conclusions made by researchers on the effects of sugar, which they reached after analyzing public health records from several different countries. Among children, the researchers noted that the rate of tooth decay was found to double when children’s diets changed from 0% to 5% daily calories from sugar.

While studying the connections between sugar and dental caries in different countries, researchers noted that in Nigeria, where the daily sugar intake among the general population is less than 2g a day, only 2% of the adults report cavities or caries-related tooth pain (remember, in the USA 92% of adults report experiencing a cavity!). Historical records are also revealing: researchers found that during WWll, when Japan had no access to sugar, cavity rates also plummeted– and rose again after the war was over and sugar supplies went back up.

Diet is indispensable

In industrialized countries, we often take healthcare for granted, believing that modern medicine can cure whatever ails us. But what researchers at the University College London and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found was that even our latest technologies– use of fluoride, for example, or new and better toothbrushes, even regular dental cleaning– is not enough to combat the terrible onslaught of regular sugary exposure. Worldwide dental health problems, researchers concluded, are massively correlated with sugar intake– and equally, can be prevented by minimizing that intake.

Why sugar?

It has been drilled into all of us that sugar causes cavities, but it helps to know how sugar works its evil: by feeding bacteria. We all have bacteria in our mouths, some commensal (good) and some pathogenic (bad). These bacteria eat sugar, which swings their balance way out of whack: bad bacteria may flourish or good bacteria may become opportunistically greedy, lose site of the higher cause, and create trouble.

When bacteria eat sugar, the byproduct is an acid that eats away at your tooth enamel and eventually causes cavities. Unfortunately, enamel breakdown can take place within just a few seconds of sugar exposure. As a result, that comfortable convention of brushing after drinking the soda doesn’t actually work, unless you want to brush after every swig.

Advanced Family Dental and prevention

The reason why we’re sharing this bleak news on your favorite dessert or soft drink is that our team at Advanced Family Dental know– and have found, over and over– that the best possible care is prevention. If you use diet as one of your tools to maintain great oral health, the less chance there is of needing fillings later.

To learn more about the effects of sugar check out the story here or ask Drs. Matheson, Skinner, or Sefcik at your next appointment at our Lakewood, Colorado clinic. We look forward to seeing you!

Photo Credit: Uwe Hermann via Compfight cc

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