If You Sip All Day, you’ll cause decay

Dr. Randy Shook

How much is too much when it comes to eating sugar? It is not only how much sugar you consume, but how long it takes you to eat it that can have serious and surprising consequences.

When most people think of going to the dentist, they think of taking care of damaged teeth. They dread examinations because of things like cavities, drilling, and expensive repairs. What’s missing is the reality that as a doctor, their dentist is invested in not only repair, but also prevention. Dentists are extremely concerned about the overall and ongoing condition of a patient’s mouth. A well-trained and experienced dentist can look in a patient’s mouth and come up with a fairly accurate perception of that patient’s current and – potentially – future health.

“By sipping the soda all day long, the carbonation and the sugar created an acidic effect that lasted for approximately 20 minutes after each sugar exposure.”

A good dentist will talk with his or her patients and discuss the best ways to maintain a healthy mouth. For instance, one patient, a hard-working mom, discovered that she had over seven decayed surfaces. She said that she only drank one can of soda a day. Surely, one can of soda daily can’t do that much damage. Drinking a little Mountain Dew for energy every day couldn’t possibly be the problem. In reality, it wasn’t the amount of soda she was drinking, but the way that she consumed that soda that was damaging her teeth. She wanted that “burst of energy,” and because she was concerned about calories and disliked carbonation, once the soda went flat she would continue to sip it for the rest of the day. She assumed that she was minimizing the negative effects of the sugar/caffeine drink, when in fact she was doing the opposite. Without realizing it, she was creating more problems. By sipping the soda all day long, the carbonation and the sugar created an acidic effect that lasted for approximately 20 minutes after each sugar exposure. Once she was convinced of the root cause of her decay, she switched to black coffee and she stopped getting cavities.

Americans are consuming more sugar in their diet than ever before.  There may be a correlation between the prevalence of certain diseases and the large amounts of sugar that have been added to the American diet. In an article for the Wisconsin Dental Association newsletter, Karen Davis, RDH, BHDS, makes the relevant point that young people’s average sugar intake through soft drinks, sweetened food, and sugar sweets is 30 teaspoons daily or approximately 115 grams. To give you some perspective, the American Heart Association recommends women limit their daily consumption of sugar to 6½ teaspoons or 25 grams and that men limit their intake to 9½ teaspoons or 38 grams.

To avoid eating and drinking large amounts of sugar in your food, you must be able to identify it correctly. Reading ingredients on labels is a great way to know what is in your meals and beverages. Recognizing sugar by its various names is equally important: High fructose corn syrup, raw organic sugar, agave syrup, juice concentrate, and evaporated cane juice are all names for sugar. Food knowledge will give you power to help control your sugar intake. Take control of your dental health; don’t be surprised. You can make sound choices that will lead to better conditions in your mouth, which in turn will lead to better health for you and your family.

Dr. Randy Shook of Menomonie Street Dental holds a Doctorate of Dental Surgery from Marquette University. He and his wife, Sheila, have three grown children. Menomonie Street Dental is a launch partner of Chippewa Valley Family.

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