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Nasty Sugar

Sugars are the most important dietary factor in the development of dental caries.

Worldwide studies on human populations show an association between sugar consumption and level of dental caries. Isolated communities that consume a small amount of sugar have a very low level of this disease. Groups of people with a high exposure to sugars have a higher level. A strong correlation exists between both the amount and frequency of sugar consumption and the development of caries, even in countries that use preventative measures such as water fluoridation. In addition to solid foods, consumption of sugary drinks also increases the risk of developing dental cavities.

Studies have shown that starches are generally a much lower risk factor in developing dental cariesthan sugars. However, when starches are cooked or combined with sugars, the risk is greater.

As part of a normal mixed diet there is little evidence that fruit causes caries . Animal studies have shown that when fruit is consumed in very high frequencies (e.g. 17 times a day) it may induce caries.

The link between dietary sugars and dental caries is supported by a large body of evidence. However, the limitations of the different types of studies should be considered when interpreting results:

  • Caries develop over time and therefore the dietary factors, several years previous to the appearance of caries, should be considered.

  • Animals have different teeth than humans and therefore the results of animal studies are not always transferable to human cases.

  • Studies sometimes measure the amount of acid produced from a food when bacteria in the mouth ferment it, in order to estimate the risk of caries, but such studies do not consider protective properties, such as effects on the flow of saliva

This text is a summary of: WHO/FAO Diet, Nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases

Notes about cereal: Everybody loves a good bowl of cereal. But recently, scientists have discovered that this easy and delicious breakfast item could be contributing to many oral health issues, including decay. A recent study shows that several popular breakfast cereals contain more sugar than cakes, donuts and even ice cream. Those with the highest content include: Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut cornflakes, Kellogg’s Coco Pops, Weetabix Minis Chocolate Crisp

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