The prevention of dental decay begins with cutting down the amount of sugars taken in all forms. Most people think we refer only to sweets as the culprits. But there are other dangerous sugar-containing foods as well. Some of them are:
1. All sugars (including honey)
2. Soft drinks such as colas and lemonades
3. Nearly all cereals
4. Cakes, biscuits and puddings.
5. Jam on your bread, marmalade on your toast
6. Chocolates, sweets and toffees
7. Peppermint sweets (they are the most dangerous because people believe the peppermint taste to be ‘medicinal’. These sweets are almost pure sugar)
Research has shown, both dental decay and periodontal disease are the result of bacterial action, in the plaque, which collects on the teeth and gums. A chocolate candy bar of about 50 grams may contain the equivalent of ten teaspoons of sugar! A slice of two-layer chocolate cake may be the equivalent of fifteen teaspoons of sugar!.
These sugars are not an essential part of a normal diet. By reducing the total intake, it will not only benefit the teeth, but also the general health. However, it is the frequency of sugar intake, more than the total consumption, which is important in influencing tooth decay. Research also shows that the acid formed on the tooth in seconds from sugar might take twenty minutes or more to disappear from the mouth. Thus, small sugary snacks every two or three hours throughout the day will keep the teeth bathed in a dangerous acid state.
If children must have sweets, they should have them only once a day (preferably during meal time). But it is better to recommend healthy snacks. A good list would contain:
Fruits: Apples, Oranges, Pears, Bananas
Vegetables: Carrots, Celery, Tomatoes, Lettuce, Cucumbers
In this way if we eliminate sugar, we reduce the formation of plaque by depriving the bacteria of the food, from which they form the acid.
Limit your intake of food and liquids with a high acidic content which include lemons, grapefruit, vinegars, spicy foods and condiments. High consumption of acidic foods and liquids will cause tooth erosion.
Lastly, be weary of hidden dangers to your teeth. Many cough and throat sweets, lozenges, syrups and elixirs are loaded with hidden sugars (sometimes up to 50-60 percent).