Why sugar is leaving a bad taste in dentists’ mouths
Statistics are a great form of measurement. They allow consumers and retailers to track costs. They allow athletes to track performance. And in medical professions, we use statistics to track illnesses and new medicines or treatments. So, when CHOICE released statistics on sugar, we were very interested. Unfortunately, the results weren’t great.
Amongst other findings, the report discovered that:
- Close to 3/4 of 9-13-year-olds obtain 10% of their dietary energy intake from added sugars.
- The average daily consumption of added sugar amongst 14-18-year-old males is 22 teaspoons.
- 10% of teenagers are consuming 38 teaspoons of added sugar per day, which is the equivalent level of sugar found in four cans of Coke.
- The average Australian is consuming an extra 14 teaspoons of sugar per day than the recommended daily intake (RDI). To put that into scary terms – over the course of a year, this equates to 22 kilos which is about the weight of a 4-5-year-old child.
When we say ‘added sugar’, we mean those sugars which aren’t naturally found in foods like fruit. The report found that most of this excess sugar is being consumed in sugary drinks including sports drinks, confectionery, biscuits and cakes.
As dentists we, naturally, found these results disturbing because of the impact sugar has on children’s teeth. In fact, the report confirmed that 1/3 of children, by the time they were 6 years old, were experiencing tooth decay in their baby teeth. And 40% of children aged between 12-14 years have decay in their adult teeth. We believe that this is because children are being readily exposed to added sugars without taking the necessary precautions to counteract the bacteria which sugar feeds.
Let’s take a look at another disturbing statistic:
- In 2016, 5,200 Victorian children, aged 0-14 years, were hospitalised due to dental conditions.
Admittedly the report doesn’t detail the conditions causing the hospitalisation. However, it would be fair to assume that some of these causes stemmed from cavity-related issues. This is because tooth decay and cavities cannot repair themselves, and if left untreated, the tooth becomes susceptible to infections and abscesses. From here, it is a just a small step to root canals and possible extraction.
We are parents, and we understand that every once-in-a-while our children want and deserve a sweet treat. So, in these cases, we suggest taking countermeasures after consumption. This can be brushing teeth or having a drink of water, or even chewing a piece of gum. Also, where possible, try swapping the food which has high added sugar count for those with less sugar. Taking these small steps will ensure the longevity of your child’s teeth.
For more information on added sugar, or taking care of your child’s teeth, please do not hesitate to contact us at KIDS Mackay. Alternatively, complete the form below, and one of our friendly team members will contact you.
Choice Community. (2017). End the Sugar-Coating [report]. [online]