Tooth decay (dental caries) is a diet related disease – sugar in food and drink we consume mixes with bacteria on our teeth to create acid which in turn attacks the protective enamel coating on teeth. The more often sweet food and drink is consumed the higher the risk of tooth decay.
Excess sugar in our diet is linked to dental decay so it pays to read food labels and to understand the many ways that sugar can be concealed in processed food products. .
Well known food company Heinz has found itself in hot water, with the consumer watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently taking them to court claiming labels on their no-longer-sold toddler product ‘Shredz’ contained misleading claims of nutritional value and was found to contain over 60% sugar. The Shredz products were developed in 2012, and were available for purchase from 2013 – but have since been removed from sale. In 2012 national dietary guidelines did not consider fruit juice concentrate to be an added sugar. These guidelines were updated in 2013, now categorising fruit juice concentrate as added sugar.
Here are some of the main ingredients to keep an eye out for in the sugar game: corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, malt syrup, sucrose… and there are more.
For healthy teeth we suggest:
- Consuming food and drinks that are free of added sugar whenever possible
- Limit how often you consume sweet food and sugary drinks (including fruit juice)
- Choose fresh fruit over dried fruit which has concentrated natural sugars
- Cut down on sugar added to tea and coffee
- Drink fluoridated tap water
- Brush your teeth and clean between your teeth after meals to remove the plaque – plaque build-up causes tooth decay and gum disease
- AND visit your dental health professional to keep a regular check on your dental health progress.