While Australians may be aware of the detrimental health effects of a diet laden with sugar, it seems our love of the sweet stuff remains unabated, increasing the risk of tooth decay.
Specially, soft drinks are the main culprits of our high level of sugar intake, with 12% of Victorians gulping down these sugary drinks on a daily basis.
Australia is among the top 10 countries for per capita consumption of soft drinks. But with one can of soft drink containing up to 10 teaspoons of sugar, the effect this is having on oral health is concerning.
Dental Health Services Victoria chief executive Dr Deborah Cole says sugar sweetened beverages, which include all non-alcoholic water based beverages with added sugar such as soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks and sports drinks, have a huge impact on oral health.
“There are strong links between lifestyle behaviours such as drinking soft drink and increased risk of tooth decay and other dental issues,” she says.
Tooth decay is caused by bacteria in the mouth that uses sugar from foods and drinks to produce acids that dissolve and damage the teeth.
Soft drinks have high levels of sugar and drinking these regularly can significantly contribute to tooth decay. Soft drinks also have high acid levels that dissolve the outer surface of tooth enamel leading to tooth erosion.
“Many people might not know this but dental conditions are the most common cause of potentially preventable hospitalisation in young Victorians under 19 years.”
Dr Cole says tooth decay remains Victoria’s most prevalent health problem and is five times more prevalent than asthma.