How a Sweet Tooth Can Lead to Unhealthy Teeth

Captain Aquafresh high-kicking a doughnut.

From sweets to cakes to chocolate puddings, everyone enjoys a bit of sugar. However, it’s important to understand how sugar affects our teeth – especially kids’ baby teeth.

Find out more about protecting your family’s teeth from tooth decay, and the Aquafresh kids’ toothbrushes and toothpastes that help keep baby teeth strong and healthy.

How sugar affects your teeth

Sugar is a known cause of tooth decay. When you eat sugary foods, the bacteria in your mouth can start to digest the sugar and produce acids. This can dissolve the protective minerals in your tooth enamel, and over time, lead to both tooth decay and then cavities. These bacteria can also turn sugars into a glue-like substance that helps hold the bacteria against the teeth, making it more difficult for saliva to wash away the acids naturally.

Tooth decay is a common yet easily preventable problem. The best ways for both children and adults to stop tooth decay in its tracks are to visit your family dentist regularly, reduce the amount of sugary foods in your diet, and brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time with a fluoride toothpaste.1 You can start brushing your baby’s teeth as soon as they appear, using a fluoride appropriate toothpaste.2

For babies aged 0-2, brush their teeth twice daily using a smear of kids’ toothpaste that contains a minimum of 1,000ppm of fluoride.3

Children aged 3-6 should also have their teeth brushed (and learn to brush themselves) with a toothpaste containing more than 1,000ppm of fluoride, in a pea-sized amount, twice a day.4

Shield your family’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste

Fluoride-containing family toothpastes, like any Aquafresh toothpaste, can help shield your teeth against the threats of cavities and decay posed by sugar acids. Containing active fluoride that binds to your teeth’s enamel, our toothpastes can provide a defensive layer against sugar acid attacks. Fluoride also helps to draw new minerals into your teeth, leaving them stronger than before and at less risk of cavities.

For babies and children, Aquafresh Milk Teeth toothpaste and Little Teeth kids’ toothpaste help protect their baby teeth from plaque build-up and the onset of tooth decay. Use our Milk Teeth toothbrush (for ages 0-2) or Little Teeth kids’ toothbrush (for ages 3-5), which feature small heads for little mouths and soft bristles for gentle brushing.

Brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste can be a big help. But remember that the foundation of a healthy mouth is following a healthy diet.

Spotting sugars in foods and drinks

It’s not just cakes and sweets that contain sugar. Many other foods can also have sugars you may not expect – ‘hidden sugars’. It’s important to check the ingredients, especially when it comes to children. Some common culprits of hidden sugars that may surprise you:

  • Cooking sauces and soups
  • Cereals and cereal bars
  • Yoghurts and dips
  • Ketchup and salad cream
  • “No added sugar” juices and fizzy drinks
Captain Aquafresh hitting one of the common hidden culprits filled with sugar - cereal.

It’s easy to think foods that are marketed as ‘low-fat’ or ‘nutritious’ are healthy alternatives. But these foods often contain extra sugar to improve their taste and texture. Even naturally occurring sugars can be harmful to your teeth.

When you’re out shopping, it’s always best to check the label. If you’re not sure where to look, anything that ends in ‘-ose’ (such as glucose, sucrose, etc.) is often a sign of hidden sugars. And it’s always worth checking the section that’s called ‘carbohydrates as sugars’ as well.

Little sugary steps make a big difference

Making a few changes to your diet can help you cut back on the super sweet stuff. Like not adding sugar to coffee and tea. And balancing your carbohydrate intake with plenty of lean proteins and vegetables. Why not swap white bread and rice for whole grain or brown alternatives. And when sugar cravings strike, go for a piece of fruit or some plain yogurt rather than biscuits and puddings.

As a simple rule, the less sugar you eat, the lower your risk of cavities. Be on the lookout for obvious sugary foods and also ones you wouldn't suspect. And never forget the importance of that twice a day brush and a good daily floss.  

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  1. NHS. Tooth Decay. Accessed 01/10/2021
  2. NHS. Looking After Your Baby’s Teeth. Accessed 01/10/2021
  3. NHS. Children’s Teeth. Accessed 01/10/2021
  4. NHS. Children’s Teeth. Accessed 01/10/2021