Impact Of Sugar On Tooth Decay Remains A Major Health Concern
Sugar intake has effects on diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, but according to the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK), it is important that the effect of sugar intake on tooth decay is also considered. Earlier this year, a 60-year period systematic review undertaken on behalf of the WHO [World Health Organization] has shown an association between the amount of sugar consumed and the development of dental cavities.
Sugar acts like a drug when trying to quit it. It causes withdrawals and cravings like a drug. That’s sugar in all its forms: Sucrose-refined white sugar; brown sugar; organic evaporated cane juice; and many others. It definitely includes high fructose corn syrup.
The FGDP has joined hands with other organizations concerned with the effects of sugar on health. Their aim is to see added sugar to contribute to only 5% of total energy intake which is in line with the advice given by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. One major aim is to reach a consensus among food and drink manufacturers to slowly decrease the amount of added sugars in beverages and processed foods. Processed foods and beverages being a part of modern diet, steps to reduce the amount of sugars in such foods will bring overall benefits not limited to teeth alone.
Did you know?
One of the best ways to protect a child’s teeth from tooth decay is with dental sealants
Dental sealants protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years, ages six to 14, when back teeth are first susceptible to decay. Sealants provide extra protection on childrens teeth until they learn how to do a better job of brushing and flossing.
Sealants act as barriers, protecting the teeth against decay-causing bacteria. The sealants are usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most often.
Applying dental sealants is a simple, painless procedure that’s also inexpensive compared to filling a cavity.
Just the facts
- Dental Sealants are a clear plastic material, professionally applied to the back teeth to prevent cavities.
- 90% of children’s tooth decay occurs on tooth surfaces with pits and fissures. Sealants do a great job of preventing tooth decay on those kinds of surfaces.
- Your child can benefit from sealants applied around six years of age, when first permanent molars erupt.
Questions and Answers
What are sealants?
Sealants are made of a white or clear resin material. They help shield bacteria which causes decay on the surface of the back teeth.
How can sealants prevent decay?
The sealant material bonds to the chewing surface of the back teeth, forming a protective barrier covering the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) of the molars.
Sealants prevent bacteria from nestling into the grooves of the teeth AND they seal out any food sources from the deep pits and fissures of molar teeth.
Why are sealants necessary?
Because the depressions and grooves (pits and fissures) on the back teeth are impossible to keep clean. The tooth brush bristles cannot reach deep into them. These depressions and grooves are snug places for food and plaque to hide. By coating the grooves with a thick covering of sealant material, plaque and food is kept out, decereasing the chances of decay.
Which teeth are suitable for sealants?
First and second molars are most likely to benefit from sealant applications. It is best to seal these molars right after they have just erupted catching them before decay sets in. First molars generally appear at around six years of age and second molars at about 12 years of age. Children between the ages of six and 14 benefit most from sealants.
How are sealants applied?
After an examination, it is determined which teeth can be sealed. Applying sealants is very simple and painless. First, the teeth are cleaned. Then in preparation for the sealant material, the teeth are dabbed with a very mild solution similar in strength to vinegar or lemon juice. This will roughen the tooth surface slightly so the sealant will bond properly to the tooth and ensure a clean tooth surface. After the tooth has been prepared, the resin sealant material is painted onto the tooth. It will flow into the grooves of the tooth and hardens in about 30 seconds. Afterwards, the bacteria cannot reach the pits and grooves.
Have sealants been thoroughly tested?
Yes. Children around the world have had their teeth sealed in clinical studies. These studies have proven sealants to be effective, easy to apply, inexpensive and nontoxic.
Are sealants covered by dental insurance?
Yes! Most dental insurance plans offer coverage for up to 100% of the cost of placing a dental sealant. For information specific to your dental insurance plan, please speak with a member of my staff or your dental insurance company.
How long will dental sealants last?
Sealants will chip or break off if you regularly chew on ice or hand candies (you can also break a tooth doing that!) Sealant application can last for as long as you are careful not to bite into things that are not foods. They should be checked regularly and reapplied when the appear to have worn off. My goal is to send your child off to college cavity free and with intact sealants to protect their teeth into the future!
Cough syrup and cavities
It’s that time of year when coughs, colds and flu can make your life miserable. And like most people, you’ll probably reach for an over-the-counter medication to ease your symptoms. But did you know that spoonful of medicine could add tooth decay to your list of side effects?
Many cough drops and liquid medications contain a variety of ingredients that make your teeth more susceptible to decay:
- Ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and sucrose contribute to decay when the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars, breaking them down and forming acids that attack the enamel of your teeth.
- Ingredients such as citric acid can wear down the enamel of your teeth. In addition, some antihistamine syrups contain low pH levels and high acidity, which can be a dangerous combination for your teeth.
- The addition of alcohol in some popular cold and cough syrups also has a drying effect on the mouth. Saliva helps to naturally rinse the sugars and acids away from your teeth – so with less saliva present, the sugars and acids remain in the mouth even longer, leading to greater risk for decay.
These risks can be magnified if medication is taken before bedtime. The effects of taking liquid medication before bedtime aren’t much different than drinking juice or soda before bedtime – because you produce less saliva while you sleep, sugar and acids remain in contact with the teeth longer, increasing your risk for decay.
What’s the remedy?
There are things you can do to lessen the effects of the sugars and acids in liquid medication.
- Take liquid medication at meal times instead of bedtime so that more saliva is produced to rinse away the sugars and acids.
- Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after taking medication.
- Rinse your mouth well with water or chew sugar-free gum after taking liquid medication.