It pays to keep an eye on all food and drink products because the sugar within can be hiding in plain sight, using any number of uncommon terms.
What are you looking for?
On packaging, you want to keep an eye out for free sugars as these have a significant impact on your oral health.
The World Health Organisation explains free sugars as ‘monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.’
Here are some of the main free sugar ingredients to watch out for on packaging: corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, malt syrup, sucrose…and there are more.
Why should you keep track of sugar intake?
An excess of sugar in your diet is linked to dental decay (dental caries), a diet-related disease that occurs when 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 our teeth. The more sweet food and drink we consume, the higher the risk of tooth decay.
How much is too much sugar?
In 2015 the WHO noted set a guideline recommending ‘adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits.’
At present, the average Australian consumes 14 teaspoons of free sugars per day.
What can you do to support healthy teeth?
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
- Visit your dental health professional to keep a regular check on your dental health progress.
Australian Dental Association media release: https://www.ada.org.au/News-Media/News-and-Release/Latest-News/Dental-Health-Week-2020-FEATURED-15072020