Much of the sugars consumed today are “hidden” in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets. For example, 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce contains around 4 grams (around 1 teaspoon) of free sugars. A single can of sugar-sweetened soda contains up to 40 grams (around 10 teaspoons) of free sugars.
Free sugars refer to monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks.
A recent guideline by WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development in March 2015 recommends reduction in free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay.
Reducing sugars intake to less than 10% of total energy: a strong recommendation
Refer to World Health Organisation (WHO) Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children
The recommendations are based on analysis of the latest scientific evidence. This evidence shows, first, that adults who consume less sugars have lower body weight and, second, that increasing the amount of sugars in the diet is associated with a weight increase. In addition, research shows that children with the highest intakes of sugar-sweetened drinks are more likely to be overweight or obese than children with a low intake of sugar-sweetened drinks.
The recommendation is further supported by evidence showing higher rates of dental caries (commonly referred to as tooth decay) when the intake of free sugars is above 10% of total energy intake.
Tooth decay is caused by pathogenic bacteria in the mouth use sugar from foods and drinks to produce acids that dissolve and damage the teeth. Tooth erosion occurs when acid attacks the teeth to dissolve the outer surface of the enamel.
Each acid attack lasts for around 20 minutes. Every time you take a sip of the drink, the acid damage begins all over again.
Saliva has buffering action releasing carbonates to combat the acid. However if you don’t drink enough water the saliva is reduced and the vicious cycle of tooth decay continues.
Therefore to prevent tooth decay we must have a balanced diet, healthy clean mouth to reduce bacterial pathogens and high water intake to optimise saliva secretion.
Book an appointment with our hygienists to determine the pH of your mouth and implement strategies to reduce tooth decay.