On average Britons eat 700g of sugar per week. That’s equal to 140 teaspoons!
Despite knowing sugar is bad for our teeth, sugar-related dental problems are still the most widespread cause of poor oral health and gum disease.
The clear and simple message is to reduce the amount of sugar in our diets and also the frequency at which we consume sugar. The mouth needs time to recover from sugar attacks to keep decay at bay.
Here are our top tips to becoming sugar smart:
1. Stop adding sugar to tea and coffee
Cutting out sugar in hot drinks completely is a great way to cut down on sugar, and it’s probably easier to get used to if you do it gradually.
However, if you do need a little bit of sweetness to perk up your drink- there are artificial sweeteners that you can use that won’t cause decay.
2. Drink water as much as possible
In between meals try and stick to plain water. Yes, we know it’s boring but just think of the added benefits of drinking more water: better skin, more energy and better teeth!
3. Reserve fizzy drinks for special occasions
Fizzy drinks often contain a lot of sugar so it is tempting to switch to diet versions instead. However, diet drinks are often more acidic than the full-fat versions which can lead to acid erosion of the teeth.
So we recommend saving fizzy drinks for special treats.
4. Get to know your labels
The nutrition label lists all ingredients in order of quantity. The higher up on the list, the more prevalent the ingredient. A good rule is to avoid products that contain sugar in the first three ingredients.
Sugar can also go by different names on their packaging. The main ones to look out for are; sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, molasses, hydrolysed starch and corn syrup. It is recommended that sugar should make up no more than 5% of our daily energy intake. This is equivalent to 7 teaspoons (30g) of added free sugars for an adult.
5. Get enough sleep
Being a night owl can spell bad news for your mouth and this is all down to your routine. People who stay up late are more likely to skip brushing before bed and with the added midnight snacking this could spell disaster for our teeth. Also, when we are tired, it is sugary foods we reach for to try and boost our energy levels.
6. Start the day with a ‘sugar-smart’ breakfast
Many breakfast cereals that are marketed as ‘healthy’ or ‘low-fat’ actually contain high amounts of sugar. Switching out for a lower sugar cereal or one with no added sugar, and not adding any yourselves, will have a massive impact on your dental health and your health overall.
Filling up at breakfast time is also a great way to avoid those unhealthy snacks throughout the day. Choose natural porridge oats, plain bran and wheat based cereals and if you need added flavour take a hand full of fresh berries, nuts and seeds.
7. Swap sugary snacks for healthier alternatives
We are all struck by sugary cravings to give us an energy boost sometimes. There are lots of healthy substitutes for sugary snacks that will give you an energy boost!
Try a cube of cheese, a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit.
8. Reduce frequency of sugar
The frequency of sugar intake is actually more damaging to your teeth than the amount of sugar you eat. Constant grazing can quickly wreak havoc on your teeth! If you do need a sugar fix, try and keep it to mealtimes and always have a glass of water to with it to help the saliva buffering.
9. Watch your alcohol intake
Alcoholic drinks account for 11% of the UK population’s daily intake of added sugar. Whether it’s that pint of cider, glass of Prosecco or even a cheeky G&T the sugar in them can have a huge impact on our oral health and your waistline. Try to moderate the number of alcoholic drinks you have and have some water nearby to help wash down your tipple of choice. It helps wash some of the sugar from the mouth and your head will thank you the next day too.
10. Reduce temptation at home
Limit the number of sugary treats you keep in your house.
Try and stock up on healthy treats like fresh veggie sticks or oatcakes with houmous or guacamole. Bowls of fresh fruit, toasted coconut slices and nuts look appealing and are far more satisfying than sugary snacks. And of course, a bit of dark chocolate always goes down well (85 percent is best).