How drinking water can help to keep you and your teeth healthy
September 18th, 2019
We’ve heard a lot over recent years about the dangers of consuming too much sugar, with high profile campaigns seeing sweets vanish from the supermarket checkout and more recently the introduction of the so called ‘sugar tax’ on fizzy drinks. But is there any real evidence to support the arguments against sugar? Plenty, according to the results of a new study – and it’s not just our teeth we need to be worried about.
New research has revealed a significant link not just between the consumption of sugary drinks and tooth decay, but also identified an increased risk of death from all causes.
In a study that featured 450,000 people from countries across Europe including the United Kingdom, France and Spain, it was found that those who consumed two or more soft drinks a day were more likely to die from heart disease, bowel disease and strokes.
It is, according to Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, a stark reminder of the dangers of a diet with excessive levels of added sugar, and is of particular significance to the UK which, Dr Carter notes, has one of the highest rates of sugar consumption worldwide.
“This study is a frightening eye-opener and reminds us that excessive amounts of sugar can be really harmful to our health.
“Added sugar is the main culprit when it comes to several major chronic diseases including tooth decay, diabetes and heart disease. The toll it takes simply cannot be ignored. More must be done to drive down sugar consumption and incentivise healthier alternatives.”
Childhood tooth decay and obesity are two widespread issues in the UK that are both attributed to high levels of sugar consumption.
Recent figures from Public Health England suggest children as young as ten have already consumed 18 years’ worth of sugar. As a result, tooth decay is currently the most common chronic disease among society’s youngest members.
The study found that sugary soft drinks were associated with deaths from digestive conditions, such as bowel disease, while artificially-sweetened or ‘diet’ soft drinks were strongly linked to deaths from circulatory diseases, such as heart disease and strokes. It is also important to understand that even sugar free drinks are often highly acidic, meaning that they can still prove disastrous for your teeth. The best advice was to substitute such drinks with a natural replacement, ideally water, than a sugar free equivalent.
What the dentists say
A good oral hygiene regime is essential to promoting healthy teeth, but only when combined with a sensible diet, according to Dr Carter. “Tooth brushing twice daily, with a fluoride toothpaste, is a crucial aspect of good oral health but it cannot prevent tooth decay caused by excessive sugar consumption”
“We must look after ourselves and make sure our diet reflects this. Plain still water is the best ‘tooth-friendly’ way of quenching thirst, without putting our health at risk.”
The Oral Health Foundation believes the success of the sugar tax, introduced in April 2018, demonstrates the impact that regulation can have on sugar consumption.
Dr Carter says: “The sugar tax shows that government intervention is absolutely necessary for reducing the amount of sugar on supermarket shelves and in British homes. Tighter regulation, along with making healthier alternatives more financially affordable, are the next important steps in fixing the UK’s unhealthy relationship with sugar.”