Do sugars rot your teeth?

Posted 07 August 2014

All food and drinks that contain fermentable carbohydrates (e.g. sugary foods such as cookies, cakes, soft drinks and candy as well as less obvious foods, such as bread, crackers, bananas and breakfast cereals), can increase the risk of tooth decay (20).

Fermentable carbohydrates (including sugars) are broken down by the bacteria in the mouth to produce acid and this acid can then dissolve away some of the enamel surface of teeth.

Tooth decay can be minimised by limiting the frequency of exposure to all ‘fermentable carbohydrates’ (including sugars) and increasing exposure to fluoride from sources such as fluoridated drinking water, salt, milk and toothpaste (17,18). Twice daily tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste should also be encouraged. Visiting your dentist on a regular basis can also help.

Note: The World Dental Federation (DFI) suggest that the risk of dental caries increases if consuming excessive amounts of sugar from snacks, processed food and soft drinks, e.g. more than four times a day and/or more than 50 grams (approx. 12 teaspoons) per day (19). They also recommend awareness of not only sugars added to food but also those naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.