The World Health Organization recommends a daily sugar consumption equal to five per cent of daily caloric intake (25g or six teaspoons per day) but Australians consume much more. In 2011-12 the Australian Health survey revealed that Australians consumed 60 grams of sugar per day, or 14 full teaspoons. This is not good for our health, or especially our smile.
Sugar and its effect on tooth decay
Sugar is one of the primary causes of tooth decay in Australia and the world.
This is because cavity causing bacteria are fuelled primarily from sugars including sucrose (table sugar), glucose, fructose, lactose and cooked starches.
If these bacteria’s are allowed to thrive in the mouth they eventually bore all the way through teeth enamel into the deeper layers of the teeth causing tooth decay.
What are the symptoms of tooth decay?
Tooth decay usually doesn’t cause symptoms until you have a cavity or an infected tooth. When this happens, you may have:
- A toothache
- Swelling in your gums near a sore tooth
- Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- White, gray, brown, or black spots on your teeth
How is tooth decay diagnosed?
To diagnose tooth decay, your dentist will firstly ask you questions about your past dental and medical problems and care. He will then:
- Check your teeth, using a pointed tool and a small mirror.
- Take X-rays of your teeth and mouth to find tooth decay that can’t be seen with the eyes.
Why are X-rays helpful in diagnosing tooth decay?
Eighty percent of tooth decay occurs between the teeth, therefore a visual exam alone isn’t enough to detect possibly cavities. Imaging modalities such as OPG, Lat Ceph or a Cone Beam CTs can also show what’s under a tooth crown, and these are used to examine the tooth root, the jaw and other supporting structures.
Back to Sugar Consumption
Some confectioneries such as cakes and muffins reach 81% sugar content. Candies are even worse containing up to 93% sugar. Even foods we typically think of as healthy can be sources of sugar such as breakfast cereals and sauces.
By becoming more aware of our sugar intake we can help control not only tooth decay, but other serious health risks including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
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