Lots of people will have resolved to eat more healthily this year and to try to cut down on fat and sugar, mainly in an effort to lose weight. However these attempts could be ruined by hidden sugars, and as well as sabotaging efforts to eat healthily these sugars can also hurt your smile, increasing your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Unfortunately many supposedly healthy foods contain high amounts of sugar, and one of the worst offenders can be breakfast cereal. Recent tests of 50 different breakfast cereals found a staggering 32 had high sugar content, and supposedly healthy granola and muesli can often be amongst the worst offenders. In addition many low-fat products retain their taste by adding sugar, and these are often aimed at people who are weight watching.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to exercise more, then you may find yourself reaching for energy drinks after a strenuous session at the gym. Unfortunately these can contain as many as 13 teaspoons of sugar, and even those tempting bottles of vitamin enhanced drinks can contain a staggering 11 teaspoons of sugar. It definitely pays to read the labels and to pick unsweetened versions of your favourite foods such as muesli, but it might take a bit of time to get used to the difference in flavour. After a while you should find you adjust, and if you go back to the sweetened versions you might find them a bit too much. It’s best to cut out sugary fizzy drinks altogether, as although you can switch to diet versions these are not particularly tooth friendly as they tend to contain a lot of acid that can eat away at your tooth enamel, ruining your smile.
It can be difficult to cut down on sugar, and the current guidelines recommend no more than 10 teaspoons a day. However it’s likely this limit will be cut down to just five under new guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation. This will prove tricky to adhere to, as a Mars bar has 5 teaspoons, and even some ready meals can contain up to 8 teaspoons a day. It is estimated the average person in the UK consumes around 12 teaspoons daily, but some researchers found adults living in industrialised countries could be eating up to 46 teaspoons every day, increasing their risk of not just tooth decay and gum disease, but also heart disease and obesity. The WHO guidelines do not include sugars and that naturally occur in fruits and starches.
If you do manage to cut down then your waistline and your teeth will benefit. Sugar is an easy source of energy for bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay. At the very least an excess of sugar in your diet will lead to your tooth enamel becoming softer and eroding away. Softer tooth enamel is also more easily stained, so the effects of home teeth whitening might not last as long and you are more likely to have sensitive teeth increasing the risk of unpleasant side effects as you whiten.