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    The devastating impact of sugar on teeth

    While it is widely accepted that sugar threatens the health of teeth and gums, not many patients are aware of why this is. Many are not aware of the exact nature of how teeth and gums are destroyed through the frequent exposure to sugar-laden foods and beverages.

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    The disastrous effect of sugar on dental health is clearly evident in the population group that is most likely to consume high-sugar diets: children. This is where dentist Soho can help.

    According to a report released by Public Health England, 9 out of 10 hospital admissions for tooth extractions in children (6 to 10 year-olds) are on account of tooth decay. Tooth decay can result in challenges in eating; sleeping and can interfere with school attendance.

    In addition to the rise in cavities and tooth decay, excessive sugar consumption can also increase the risk of periodontal disease and other worrying medical conditions including heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, obesity and dementia.

    The link between sugar consumption and poor oral health

    The oral cavity is home to both good and bad bacteria. The high temperatures and damp environment of the mouth are conducive to bacterial growth. In a person with good oral health, the balance of bacteria is in favour of the good kind.

    Good bacteria are responsible for helping to break down food as well as keeping tight control over bad bacteria present. It is when bad oral bacteria overwhelm the good that dental health becomes a cause for concern.

    When sugar enters the mouth, it reacts with the bad bacteria present, producing a by-product – an acid that is responsible for eating away at the enamel to form cavities. Bacteria feed off the sugars and the more frequently sugar is consumed, the worse bacteria and acid are in the mouth.

    Bad bacteria left to flourish will over time begin to affect gum health, resulting in severe forms of gum disease. Any sign of tooth or gum problems in children or adults requires a visit to a dentist. In some cases, it might even be necessary to visit an oral surgeon and undergo a procedure to fix the issue. Medical studies have found bad oral bacteria that cause gum disease also present in the blood vessels in the heart, linking gum disease to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases as well as lung infections.

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    Seeing that many natural foods in the daily diet, like fruit and vegetables, also contain sugar, it is useful when wanting to limit one’s daily consumption of sugar to know of the different food sources that expose teeth and gums to hidden and known sugars.

    Sources of sugar in the daily diet

    The foods we eat on a daily basis contain natural free sugars and added-on sugars. Free sugars are found mostly in fruit and vegetables juices and smoothies and honey. Needless to say, it is processed foods like baked goods, breakfast cereals, sweetened flavoured yoghurt, soft drinks, sweets and chocolates that contain added sugars (extra sugar have been added in the manufacturing process).

    While milk, fruit and vegetables also contain sugar, these sugars are not defined as free or added and need not be limited but should be factored in the overall daily sugar count. It is the free and added sugars that pose the real threat to dental health and so should be avoided.

    Knowing the serious threat of consuming frequent sugary foods to dental health can make us change our eating behaviour patterns. Taking a proactive stance against consuming too much sugar will help us protect our dental health and our smiles too.