A Saccharine Scandal

10564207754_0cf9750f24Your Tigard dentist is interested in all health news, particularly the kind that impacts his patients’ dental health! Imagine how much Dr. Williams’ ears pricked up at this recent NPR story: way back in the 60s and 70s, the sugar industry steered sugar research onto a dead-end road in an attempt to keep their product on the market!

The news

The story, which can be found on NPR’s website as well as Science Daily and other sources, describes the recent discovery of papers detailing experiments done with the National Institutes of Health’s consent– experiments like trying to find a “cavity vaccine.”

The research went on for decades and yielded no informative or applicable information that would improve the public’s health. In the meantime, efforts to educate the public on the dangers of eating sugar were stymied because public health resources were going to futile, sugar industry directed experiments.

The answer to sugar’s health impacts was and is simply to limit sugar intake, but of course this isn’t what stockholders in the sugar industry wanted to hear!

The substance and what it does

Whether or not this is due to the sugar industry’s misdirection of research in the public interest, the fact is that people today– over half a century later– are still eating diets that are far too high in sugar. And public education on sugar’s health impacts is still a work in progress.

In terms of oral health, sugar creates a danger by feeding bacteria. Those bacteria, in turn, create an acid metabolite that breaks down our dental enamel– eventually causing cavities. Bacteria thriving on a high sugar diet can form biofilms in hard to reach places of the mouth and cause a lot of damage pretty quickly– this is why brushing twice a day and flossing at least once is so important.

Sugar causes other problems besides cavities. Obesity and Type ll Diabetes are both common disease conditions resulting from a high sugar diet. In addition to harming other body systems, diabetes is also a contributor to oral health problems like periodontitis. It’s all connected.

Limit sugar

Along with all other health experts, your Tigard dentist highly encourages patients to limit or skip sugar all together for optimal oral health. Soft drinks, sports beverages, and even many fruit drinks should all be avoided. Limit candy and sticky treats. Even some innocent appearing foods, like condiments and pasta sauce, can have added sugar! Read the label on your groceries so you know what you’re eating.

And as always, part of maintaining oral health isn’t just eating right– its also about keeping up-to-date on your regular appointments at our clinic!

Photo Credit: *Amanda Richards via Compfight cc

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