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Hidden Sugars

Hidden Sugars

I love talking about your dental health. It is something really important to me.

This week we are focusing on sugar, and to more precise; hidden sugars that are in your weekly shopping trolley.

Sugar is the ENEMY; as it affects the teeth topically.

When we eat sugar, bacteria in our mouth convert this to acid, which then eats away at the teeth, and that’s how we get a cavity.

But probably more sinister is the systemic effect of sugar on the body.
Sugar is involved with all the breakdown process of the body; inflammation, glycation and stress.

So, you can see I have a very integrated approach to your dental health.

Inflammation is key in a lot of disease process and is highly evident in gingivitis and gum disease.

So in your trolley and pantry at home you may have obvious sugars like soft drinks, chocolates, and spreads that all have lots of sugar in them, but probably what you are not aware of, and something you should be aware of, are the hidden sugars.

We really have such a philosophy here at Martina Dental of preventive care, and this starts at a really young age. When I have seen children who present with cavities, yes of course we can fix it, and put a filling in, but 6 months later when the same child presents with another filling, its more important that I spend time and have a chat with the parents and really see what the child is eating, and a lot of the times I actually get parents to fill out a diet log for a few weeks so we can help you identify where the sugar hits might be.

What I mean by sugar hits, is the number of times sugar is eaten. The frequency of when sugar is eaten is more damaging to your teeth health. For example, if you sat and ate all your chocolate block in one go, that would be less damaging to your teeth then grazing your chocolate bar at morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. This is because the number of times your teeth are exposed to sugar increases the likelihood of your tooth getting a hole.

What I have found in my own practice, and through my own research, and through my own personal experience as a dentist, is that breakfast can be a big culprit for dental decay without us even realising the hidden sugars.

For example, the conversation may go something along the lines of “What did little johnny have for breakfast today?”

And mum may say, “oh he had a wheat bar cereal and milk.”

I would say, “Oh that’s fantastic great way to start the day. Was there any sugar on that?”

And mum will say, “no, but we added honey.”

Now let’s picture how this can impact decay on the teeth.

So, think in front of you have your three wheat bars in a bowl with milk.  This would have around 3g of sugar per 100g, which is fantastic as the world health organisation really would like us to be eating things that have 4g or less per 100g, so that is really good.

But then what we do is we add a sweetener like honey.

Now honey is not bad for you, it is anti-bacterial, and there is nutritional value in it, but horrifyingly it actually has 80g of sugar per 100g.

So, we are taking a product, particularly in the morning, that’s quite good in terms of the dental safety for the risk of decay, and then we are adding this other product, the honey, instead of sugar, thinking we are doing the right thing. I think this is something we all need to be aware of to help reduce our risk of decay.

Instead, what we could try to do is add some natural sweetener to replace the honey, such as a banana, which has about 10g of sugar per 100g, but has so many other benefits such as the antioxidants, vitamins, the fibre and also its going to keep your child or you fuller for longer. The other thing is strawberries, they are very sweet but they have about 4g of sugar per 100g. So, adding a piece of fruit to cereal is going to be so much better for the body nutritional and also to keep the teeth healthy.

So, if you have any questions, or concerns about hidden sugars in your diet, book in for a consultation with us today, and I would be more than happy to help you find where they are, and what alternatives we can look for, to keep you and your teeth as healthy as they can be.




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