This article explores how increased sugar consumption adds to dental decline.
I graduated from dental school having been told that due to advances in preventive care most of my career would be spent replacing failed fillings, doing routine maintenance and cosmetic work as the need to treat dental decay or perform root canal treatments and extractions would be greatly reduced.
However, 20 years later I find that I am performing more extractions than ever before, doing more and more root canal procedures and dealing with rampant dental decay and gum disease in all ages.
Anecdotally I feel that dental disease is actually on the increase and appears to be more widespread, severe and aggressive.
Dental decay rates in children in Australia has increased progressively since the 1990′s according to a study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare1,2.
It is well documented that poor socio-economic status and poor oral health are linked, and the statistics do speak for themselves 3. However it is not just financially disadvantaged who are presenting with increased prevalence of dental problems, it is happening across all levels of income and background.
Why is this? We all know that sugar consumption is linked to dental decay. 4,5,6,7,8
But what isn’t so obvious is how much our sugar consumption has increased in the last 50 years; over this period sugar consumption has tripled worldwide, mainly as a result of it being added to the soft drink and cheap processed foods. 9.
However the issue is not merely about “hidden” sugar but people living in a way that means they are eating carbohydrate-rich meals, sugar-laden snacks, biscuits, sweets and chocolates, drinking soft drink full of sugar and caffeine or having excess fruit and fruit juices and smoothies which are nothing more than concentrated sugar under the guise of a healthy choice.
Our waistlines are expanding while at the same time the incidence of heart disease, diabetes and dental decay continues to soar.
While excess sugar is thought to be a key cause of the obesity epidemic, obesity itself is not the root cause of disease but its presence is a marker for metabolic damage and changes that lead to heart disease and diabetes.
Metabolic damage, oxidative stress and systemic chronic illness also impact on oral health. Sugar is so harmful to health that there are calls for it to be controlled and taxed in the same way as tobacco and alcohol. 10,11,12. Research indicates that sugar indirectly contributes to 35 million deaths a year worldwide, as there appear to be linked to the massive rise in diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes since we began eating more sugar. The health effects of excess sugar consumption are similar to those of alcohol. 13,14,15
For the first time in human history, non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, pose a greater health burden worldwide than infectious disease.16 While alcohol, tobacco and diet are all targeted as risk factors for these diseases by policymakers, Doctors are apparently calling for attention to be turned towards the dangers of excess sugar consumption.
Sugar provides “empty calories”, and a growing body of evidence suggests that fructose (one component of table sugar) can trigger processes that lead to liver toxicity and a host of other chronic diseases. 17,18
While sugar was only available as fruit and honey at certain times of the year to our ancestors, it is now present in nearly all processed foods. In some parts of the world, people are consuming more than 500 calories worth of sugar per day. 19,20,21
There is growing evidence that excess sugar has an effect on human health beyond simply adding calories and can cause many of the same problems as alcohol, including high blood pressure, high blood fats, insulin resistance and diabetes. 22
The economic and human costs of these diseases place excess consumption of sugar in the same category as smoking and drinking and like tobacco and alcohol, sugar acts on the brain to encourage dependence 22,23,24,25,26. Specifically, it interferes with the workings of a hormone called ghrelin (which signals hunger to the brain) and it also affects the action of other important compounds. 27
Oral health is determined by various factors including diet, stress and the use of alcohol or tobacco.
In ‘The World Oral Health Report’ published by WHO, it is stated that “The rapidly changing (oral) disease patterns throughout the world are closely linked to changing lifestyles which include diets rich in sugars, widespread use of tobacco and increased consumption of alcohol”. 28
If we are to tackle not only the decline in oral health but the overall health of the population then it makes sense that we address our level of sugar consumption but at the same time we must surely stop and observe the way in which we are living.
Something has gone drastically wrong when despite our remarkable medical advances and vast knowledge of the body, nutrition and illness and disease the statistics show that we are fighting a losing battle as the prevalence of heart disease, diabetes and cancer continue to rise.
Perhaps we should be asking ourselves, why are we eating so much sugar? What are we getting from it? Why do we need the kick or boost it provides? How have we been living throughout the day that leads us to be depleted and seeking sugar?
Of course, it can be confronting to ask these questions and to really take responsibility for our daily choices. Like the fact that we eat sugar because we are exhausted, stressed or seeking comfort. Or we are seeking a moment of pleasure, a quick buzz, and a high via a sugar rush that gets our nervous system revved up and out of balance. Or we are desperate to numb the way we feel inside and avoid dealing with life. Or we do not feel alive enough just as we are without altering our brain and body chemistry with foods. All of these and more are possible explanations for our rising sugar consumption that we tend to ignore and instead keep pouring it in, in the mistaken belief that we just like it.
What if there was a way to live that meant we could live from what is naturally inside by simply connecting to the “real you”, a real you that once experienced you would never want to dull, compromise or alter in any way? The workshops, talks and books of Serge Benhayon and the esoteric wisdom present that we are all equally love and by connecting to and living that love the natural inner balance and harmony of the body and the real you can be restored. Is it possible then if we were to live life in this way that our need to consume vast amounts of sugar would simply drop away and our health and oral health would improve as a consequence?
To this I would simply have to answer, yes of course, for I have witnessed it first hand for my part in not only the way I live but also in those associated with Universal Medicine and the practitioners of esoteric modalities and in my own dental patients that have then gone on to implement more self-caring lifestyle choices and practices into their everyday living.
1. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-08-03/dental-reform-urgently-needed2c-say-experts/2823150 rise of dental decay in children
3. https://www.adelaide.edu.au/arcpoh/downloads/publications/reports/research/2001-2008/report-09.pdfdental health and wealth
4. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j..2003.com122.x/abstract;jsessionid=E9E34376783A62269828CA3E27FC710F.d03t02WHO lifestyle and oral health
5. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(83)91696-3/abstract sugar dental decay
6. http://www.ajcn.org/content/78/4/881S.full dental caries and sugar
7. http://jdr.sagepub.com/content/67/11/1422.short dental decay and sugar intake
8. http://www.jdentaled.org/content/65/10/1017.short sugar consumption
10. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/240115.php sugar tax 2012
13. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v482/n7383/full/482027a.html nature toxic truth about sugar
14. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/241052.php sugar global health
15. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120201135312.htm sugar global health
16. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-14970547 WHO non-communicable disease
17. http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1983542,00.html sugar and cardiovascular disease
18. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/4/523.full sugar health and cardiovascular disease
19. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/242328.php too much sugar
20. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/244264.php hidden sugar
23. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/246841.php Oral health and economy
24. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/200916.php Oral health and systemic disease
25. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/ sugar addiction
26. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/241133.php sugar regulation
27. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/4/834S.full sugar neurological effects
28. http://www.who.int/oral_health/media/en/orh_report03_en.pdf oral health WHO