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Nutrition and dental health

“I don’t eat THAT much sugar”, say many of my patients.

Many people have actually no idea how much sugar is in their diet.

My clinical colleagues will have to excuse me for a moment whilst I switch to “average Joe Schmoe” mode when explaining the following.

Sugars, in essence, are either “visible” or “hidden”.

Sugars are in almost everything! I’ve heard this saying many times however we have to be aware that sugars can be naturally occurring or processed. The processed type of sugars are the ones that cause the real damage. Although I haven’t personally seen the damage of excess fruit (and their associated sugars) or from having honey, there have been some studies done that show that even these can cause decay as a result of their sugar and acid content.

However, let’s put this aside for a moment. The worst sugars are definitely the processed ones. At the risk of having any legal action launched against me, I will talk about the things that generally contain lots of processed sugar.

At the top of the list, the worst of them are energy drinks! These drinks have a combination of ingredients which make them highly acidic, highly “cariogenic” (high ability to cause decay) and highly diuretic i.e. caffeine (high ability to cause you to pee out all your water). The combination of the above 3 facts makes them highly damaging to teeth.

If you currently have a daily habit of drinking these, I’ll “bet” you a free consultation that you probably have dental decay. If you want us to put our money where our mouth is, do a 7-day diet diary showing your energy drink intake over a 7 day period, call us and book in for a consultation.

Second, processed sugars in soft drinks and generally most processed juices have a combination of sugar and acids which can significantly cause problems to your teeth in the action above however they don’t really or generally have a diuretic effect.

Finally, sweet desserts, chocolate, pastries and things like that have sugar but not necessarily the dietary acids and the diuretic effects. This doesn’t mean they’re OK. It just means, “be careful with your consumption” of these items on a day-to-day basis.

This is probably a good time to tell you about my own personal dietary habits. For fear of judgment from my dentist colleagues and my loyal patients, I love chocolate. I eat chocolate almost daily….I can hear you thinking, “Hey, who the heck is this guy to tell me what to eat and what not to eat when he’s not playing by his own rules!?”. The truth is that I watch my diet otherwise very carefully. I have literally no other sources of sugar except for this one chocolate-destroying habit of mine. As a result, I am confident that based on my oral hygiene standards and my careful approach to processed sugars and literally “watching what I eat”, I have thus far avoided cavities whilst maintaining my one guilty pleasure.

However, I know that I’m not invincible and I’m still at risk of decay. I tell this story not to confess my sins but to let people know the truth about sugars. Here are some guidelines to keep you decay-free (chocolate obsession aside).

  • Frequency is far more important than quantity. So although I eat chocolate daily, I really only eat it as a dessert after a meal once a day (on average! 😊 )
  • Watch out for hidden sugars (check the ingredients on the side of each item you consume)
  • Avoid energy drinks and soft drinks except for the very very very rare occasion where you absolutely must consume them
  • If you have to eat sweet things as part of your job i.e. if you’re a pastry chef like Adrian Zumbo, then you need to consider sugar free chewing gum, remineralization agents etc etc , however, the best person to consult regarding these methods of reducing decay is your friendly, neighborhood dentist or us at Enso Dental in North Perth here in our home state of Western Australia. We think that even if you have to travel, we’re worth it 😊

Always here to answer your questions,

 

Enso Dental
Dr. Rahul Reddy

 

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