Sugar and Dental Health

After a recent research placement the dental surgeons clinic, I was alarmed by the number of children fronting up for tooth extraction of "baby teeth". It got me thinking... how often do people really brush their teeth nowadays? Once..? morning and night?

I'm not so convinced. In our health clinic, at Healthkicks, dental condition is always considered when developing easy to follow meal plans and creating nutrition balance (that is to say, we don't add meals like steak for someone who has difficulty chewing and we don't add a huge amount of seeds to meals that will otherwise aggravate the bowel condition diverticulosis and we definitely do not applaud the use of sugary treats in the evenings).

Although we all know that high sugar diets can cause obesity, we sometimes forget to highlight the importance of the effects that high sugar diets have on teeth, for both young and old. Bacteria in plaque feed on sugar to produce acid. This acid dissolves the minerals within teeth causing decay and cavities, cavities breakdown teeth and fillings or removal of teeth follows. Sugar decays teeth, it's that simple, and sleeping for eight hours or more without brushing your teeth allows the rate of decay to accelerate. I know, brushing teeth morning and night, seems like a typical old routine, but ask any dentist and they will remind you that oral hygiene is often neglected within the busy family lifestyle of 2013, and so more and more children are presenting to their clinics requiring preventable fillings and removal of decaying teeth, those as young as 5.

Spend 1 x day in the dental clinic and trust me you too will be off to brush your teeth after every single meal! So what to do - it's simple, avoid sugary foods including; fruit juice, fruit pops, icy poles, ice-cream, sweets, chocolate, lollies, sugary spreads (jam etc) and soft-drink etc after meal times, and always make sure you and your children have brushed teeth well before bed.

Dentists recommend brushing teeth for at least 2-minutes. I think that the message of oral hygiene needs another health promotion boost, people need to remember the importance of the "brush your teeth before bed" statement, and they need to be reminded of the direct link of poor oral hygiene and expensive dental procedures. I have always been an advocate for regular routine dental checks, as a means of keeping your teeth in tip-top condition, however from today onwards beware - we will be covering all aspects of oral hygiene in our regular health checks. Remember that tooth decay is the most common health condition in Australia, and it is also easily preventable.

A few tips:

  • Brush for 2-minutes twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste

  • Floss at least 1 x per day and visit the dentist every 6-12 months

  • Monitor your intake of energy drinks, soft-drink, sports drinks and fruit juice

  • Use straws to drink sugary beverages and avoid swishing it around the mouth

  • Eat calcium rich foods following sugary or acidic foods/ beverages to help neutralise the acids and to help protect your teeth against decay

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