What are hidden sugars?
When sugar is consumed too frequently, we can develop holes in our teeth known as tooth decay or dental caries. We all know that sweets and fizzy drinks are full of sugar, however hidden sugars are in foods and drinks that we don’t normally associate with being sugary.
Fruit is a great example as it contains naturally occurring sugars, these sugars break down in our stomach and therefore the affect on the teeth is small. However, when fruits are dried or made into juices and smoothies the natural sugar becomes more harmful to the teeth as it is broken down in the mouth. Dried fruits such as raisins can be particularly harmful as they are also sticky and can stick to our teeth for long periods of time.
This doesn’t mean that you should avoid all dried fruits, fruit juices or smoothies as they are still a healthy option, it just means this it is best to have these at a mealtime rather than grazing on them throughout the day. The best way to look out for hidden sugars is to check the ingredients on the packaging of a product and look out for any words ending in ‘ose’ and you will be surprised at what you find! Try to stick to neutral foods in between mealtimes such as low fat cheese, pitta bread, hummus, carrot stick, celery, plain rice cakes and plain bread sticks and restrict the sugary snacks and drinks to mealtimes.
Using a fluoride toothpaste can also help to protect the teeth against decay, after brushing it is important to spit the toothpaste out but not rinse it away completely with water. The fluoride works best if it is left to soak into the tooth surface. Fluoride mouthwash can have its benefits, but it does not contain as much fluoride as toothpaste therefore it is only beneficial to use it at a completely separate time to toothbrushing. Also ensure your mouthwash is alcohol free as alcohol has been found to cause slightly changes to the skin in them mouth which can be associated with cancer.