I didn’t think so. None of my dentists ever uttered those words. Conflict of interests, maybe? And the worst carbohydrates for your teeth seem to be sugars.
(Thanks to Dr. Stephan Guyenet and Jeremy Landen for this sugar consumption graph.)
MNT on September 16, 2014, published an article about the very prominent role of sugars as a cause of cavities, aka dental caries. This idea deserves much wider dissemination.
I’ve written before about the carbohydrate connection to dental health and chronic systemic disease. Furthermore, sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to 200,000 yearly worldwide deaths.
Investigators at University College London and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine think the World Health Organization’s recommendation of a maximum of 10% total daily calories from “free sugar” should be reduced to 3%, with 5% (25 grams) as a fall-back position.
Six teaspoons of granulated table sugar (sucrose) is 25 grams. That should be enough daily sugar for anyone, right? But it’s incredibly easy to exceed that limit due to subtly hidden sugars in multiple foods, especially commercially prepared foods that you wouldn’t expect contain sugar. Chances are, for instance, that you have in your house store-bought sausage, salad dressings, and various condiments with added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup. Sugar’s a flavor enhancer.
Cross-section of a tooth
The aforementioned “free sugar” are defined as any monosaccharides and disaccharides that a consumer, cook, or food manufacturer adds to foods. In the U.S., we just call these “added sugars” instead of free sugars. From the MNT article, “Sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrup, and fruit juices are also classed as free sugars.” Sugar in the whole fruit you eat is not counted as free or added sugar.
The London researchers found that—in children at least—moving from consuming almost no sugar to 5% of total daily calories doubled the rate of tooth decay. This rose with every incremental increase in sugar intake.
From the MNT article:
“Tooth decay is a serious problem worldwide and reducing sugar intake makes a huge difference,” says study author Aubrey Sheiham, of the Department of Epidemiology & Public Health at University College London. “Data from Japan were particularly revealing, as the population had no access to sugar during or shortly after the Second World War. We found that decay was hugely reduced during this time, but then increased as they began to import sugar again.”
I’m convinced. How about you?
Steve Parker, M.D.