One of the main contributors of dental decay is sugar. Are you aware of how much is in your food?

Recommended sugar intake.

Sugar in our diets are either Intrinsic/natural (good) or extrinsic/added (Bad). Natural sugars are found in fruits-fructose and milk-lactose. However, added sweeteners in food are the real problem because they contribute to dental decay. They are present in most food types like muesli bars, soft drinks, cakes, biscuits, yoghurt, sweetened milk, breakfast cereals, lollies.

It is recommended we limit added sugar in our diet to no more than 6 teaspoons or 24 g per day. One teaspoon is approximately 4g. WHO has recommended we limit total intake per serving to 5% added sugar or less. So when comparing different types of products try choosing those with 5g/100g or less of added sugar in the contents.

Sweeteners in food can be named differently, such as, Maltrose, honey, malt syrup, maple syrup, agave nectar, molasses, sucrose.

These pictures show the sugar content in some of our commonly consumed beverages:

courtesy of

How does sugar rot teeth?

Acid in your mouth comes from the bacteria which live on your teeth. These bacteria produce acid every time we eat. Sweet foods and refined carbohydrates are an easy energy source for bacteria to use in producing acid.

The longer the acid stays on the teeth the greater the likelihood of the tooth losing minerals (building blocks of tooth).  This persistent lost of minerals eventually leads to a cavity. Consumption of sweet foods can be enjoyed but to avoid dental decay it must be consumed in a responsible manner.’

Damage to teeth is caused not by the quantity of sweet foods consumed at any one time but the frequency it is eaten and the length of time it remains on the teeth. In other words, you could eat a kilo of sugar in one sitting with less risk to your teeth than if you were to eat this kilo of sugar spread out over the course of several hours. And if this sweet foods remain on the tooth surface for a long time the damage to the tooth will be greater.

Suggestions for reducing dental decay risk.

Responsible consumption of sweet foods involves:

  1. A reduction in the frequency of eating sweet foods like soft drinks, cordial, lollies.
  2. Rinse your mouth with water and chew sugar free chewing gum after eating, especially after consumption of high sugar foods/drinks.
  3. Avoid sticky, sweet foods, especially immediately before bedtime.
  4. Bundling consumption of sweet beverages with main meals ie, dinner and lunch.

If you have any questions about the effects of diet on dental decay or any other dental related questions please contact the surgery on 98706788.

Roland Chong

Roland has over 20 years experience as a general dentist. Roland does all aspects of general dentistry with a special interest in prosthodontics (crown and bridge work) and cosmetic dentistry. A member of the International Team of Implantology, Roland is constantly developing his skills by collaborating with international experts.

Leave a comment