What Are Sugars?
You can classify sugars into 2 groups.
1. Intrinsic sugars (natural sugars) where sugar is held inside the food molecule in foods like fresh fruits.
2. Extrinsic Sugars or sugars outside of the food cells.
Extrinsic sugars can be further broken down into a) milk sugars & b) non milk sugars.
a) Milk Sugars (also natural sugars) are in milk and milk products and cause less tooth decay. In Fact eating some cheese after a meal can help reduce tooth decay – you still have to brush twice a day !!!
b) Non Milk Sugars – also called added sugars or free sugars are the greatest concern for teeth. These have no nutritional value and add unnecessary kilojoules. Examples are glucose or sucrose (table sugar) and are often added to foods we buy and also in honey, syrups and fruit juices.
How much sugar?
Australians currently consume on average 14 teaspoons of sugar per day. It is recommended for dental health that we reduce this to 6 teaspoons. This also has the added benefit to our over health by reducing our risk of obesity and diabetes.
Tips to help you reduce sugar intake & the effect of sugar on your teeth.
- Develop healthy dietry habits to children early in life. (see australian guide to nutrition below)
- Don’t add sugars/ sweetners to baby and childrens drinks.
- Reduce the number of times you eat food with added sugars. This is important so that your teeth are not exposed to sugars throughout the day.
- Limit drinks with sugars – to rarely rather than daily. Choose water and milk instead.
- Eat more fruit and vegetables, grains and unsweetened breakfast cereals.
- Avoid sticky sugars like dried fruits, fruit leathers or hard chewy sweets especially close to bedtime.
- Read nutrition labels you will be surprised how much sugar is added to many food. 1 teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams X 6 = 24 grams for the whole day.
- Brush your teeth twice a day, drink tap water and use a fluoride toothpaste.
- Follow the Australian guidelines for healthy eating (below)