Are You Giving Up Sugar For Lent?

It may be a religious festival but everyone can use this occasion to take a look at their diet

Foxhall Dental PracticeSugar is responsible for a lot of health problems in the UK and indeed, other parts of the world.

Not only does this apply to obesity and related issues such as diabetes, but it is also responsible for a lot of tooth and gum health problems too. In the West, we eat far too much sugar in our diet, and not only in the obvious places such as cakes and sweets but also as added ingredients to foods and drinks.

Even if we make conscious efforts not, for example, to put sugar in our tea, the impact will be limited. Far too much sugar is consumed in other ways and although any reduction is good, we need, perhaps, to be more radical in our thinking if we are to look after ourselves better.

Hidden sugars

We can probably skip talking about sweets, chocolates, cakes etc. Most of our Ipswich patients will be fully aware of how high in sugar they are. It is often in the things that we wouldn’t expect, or if we do, probably don’t really think about, where we consume a very large proportion of our total sugar intake. So where are some of these areas?

Coffee – Whilst we can control the amount of sugar we put in coffee at home, many of us are addicted, it seems, to store bought coffee. Whilst cappuccino was once thought to be ‘exotic’, it is now one of the more mainstream coffee drinks with new ones coming along all of the time. These newer ones often contain added ingredients such as flavoured syrups, creams and marshmallows. All of these add to the total amount of sugar in our drinks. Although each drink will vary in the amount they contain, it is worth considering that one of the most sugar heavy drinks at a popular coffee shop contains as much as 23 teaspoons of sugar!

‘Sports’ and fizzy drinks – We have discussed these before but it is always worth a reminder, especially as these seem to be popular with children who sometimes use them for an energy boost. Unfortunately, these are terrible for our teeth. Not only can they contribute to tooth decay but also enamel erosion due to their high acidity. Very few of us require the energy that they allegedly provide and it is largely marketing that makes us believe that we do. Water is often the ‘healthiest’ drink for you with others drunk more sparingly as a ‘treat’.

Harmful sugar

So what health issues can our Foxhall Dental Practice patients expect if they consume too much sugar? For obvious reasons, we will focus on the dental impact of this food product but it is also worth noting that it can lead to other medical issues such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other life threatening medical problems.

As far as oral health issues go, the main problems that are likely to occur if you eat or drink too much sugar are:

Tooth decay

Anyone who has had this problem will know that it can lead to a very painful toothache. Even though a tooth is relatively tiny, this pain can seem to almost take us over, preventing us from sleeping or focussing on our everyday tasks. Depending on how soon it is detected, it might be treated with a filling, crown or, in a worst case scenario, the tooth may need to be extracted.

Gum disease

Sugar intake helps to fuel the bacteria that can lead to gingivitis and periodontitis. Keeping your intake lower will help to prevent this, along with a good oral health regime of course. Gum disease can lead to problems such as bad breath and sore gums but, if not treated early enough, can also lead to loss of teeth.

Enamel erosion

Products such as sports and other fizzy drinks, contain not only sugar but acidic ingredients too. Because of how we tend to drink, these all pass over the front of our teeth, often causing damage to the protective enamel layer on them. Not only can this lead to decay but can also cause our teeth to become very sensitive too. Once this has happened, in more extreme cases, you may need to have veneers fitted to protect your teeth from further damage.

It is perhaps unrealistic to ask our Ipswich patients to cut out sugar altogether from their diet, but if you want to have healthier teeth, cutting down on sugar is a good way to help with this. Naturally, on its own, it will not be enough and you will still need to brush and floss regularly as well as seeing a dentist for check ups, but it is a positive step to take.

For general oral health care or to see how we can help you aesthetically improve your smile, please call the Foxhall Dental Practice for an appointment to see a dentist on 01473 258396.