Is sugar the biggest danger to your teeth?

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We’ve always been told that eating too many sweets will rot our teeth, but is sugar really the most damaging food to our teeth?

The answer to this question is less simple than you may think, as there are other foods that can have a similar effect to sugar and need to be consumed in moderation. Foods such as crisps, biscuits, bread and even pasta and rice can also be very damaging to teeth, as they are complex carbohydrates which form acids in your mouth which can stick to your teeth for longer. We tend to think that if we eat a sandwich or savoury biscuits that because they don’t contain sugar we don’t need to worry about brushing our teeth after eating them, so they become even more damaging. Starch breaks down into maltose, a type of sugar which is as harmful to teeth as normal sugar and better known as sucrose, so don’t be fooled that if you don’t eat sweets that you aren’t consuming damaging sugars.

It is estimated that between 60 and 90% of children of school age have cavities and that nearly 100% of adults have them! The World Health Organization recommends moderating your intake of sugar to less than 10% of your daily calorie intake, to reduce the risk of cavities.

In order to help with this and create awareness, we wanted to share some tips for how to keep your mouth healthy and stop cavities forming –

  • Stop snacking between meals. After we eat the natural process of remineralisation of the enamel takes place, where calcium, phosphate and fluoride are returned to the tooth from the saliva, neutralising acid and repairing the tooth. If we snack in between meals, this can’t happen, so try to only eat at meal times. If you can’t resist a snack, choose tooth friendly foods such as cheese, yogurt, fruit, vegetables and nuts. Avoid fruit juices and dried fruits.
  • Brush teeth after every meal. Brush for two minutes, remembering to divide your mouth into 4 sections (outer surface, inner surface, chewing surface and tongue) to make sure you don’t miss anything.
  • Avoid sticky foods, as these stick to the teeth and dissolve slowly, so they do the most damage to tooth enamel
  • Watch out for hidden sugars in foods. Check labels when you’re food shopping and see what ingredients are in your favourite foods, you may be surprised at the sugar content of juices and drinks.
  • Chew sugar free chewing gum, it’s a good way to reduce the chance of cavities developing when we’re out and about after eating. It is a good way to freshen breath, get rid of any remaining food on the teeth and stimulate saliva production, which is the natural defence against bacteria.

So that’s the theory, not put it into practice. If you’re suffering any pain, or think you could have a cavity, don’t delay, pop into our Marbella dental clinic today to get a check-up.


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MarDenta is a friendly, approachable family
dental practice in Marbella. With NHS
experience and a focus on patient care,
we combine orthodontic expertise with all
round dental treatments for complete care
for all the family.

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