Temperatures are soaring and you’ve got the barbeque lit. The kids are playing (well, arguing) in the garden, and the sky is blue. The beginning of August can only mean one thing, right? It’s time for The Great British Bake Off. The amateur baking competition is now in its fifth series, and continues to grow in popularity: close to eight million ditched their evening in the summer sunshine to watch the first episode this year. So it wasn’t a surprise when the media recently asked: what does all this cake-making mean for our waistlines? We ask, waistlines aside, what potential impact does this increased public interest in baking have on our oral health?
Whether it’s a florentine or a flapjack, one thing is clear: all these recipes feature a lot of sugar. There have been recent calls by health organisations to reduce the recommended daily intake of sugar from 5% to 3% of our daily food intake for numerous health reasons. But with these tempting treats filling our screens, is it really that easy to reduce our intake? And what exactly is the problem with sugar for our teeth?
When we eat sugary foods, some of the sugar remains in our mouth, long after we’ve swallowed our last mouthful. This sugar can lead to the formation of tooth cavities. Here’s how: our mouths contain bacteria. When the bacteria meet with the surplus sugar in our mouths, they convert it into harmful acids that cause tooth decay and later, cavity formation. Therefore it stands to reason that the more sugar you consume, the more surplus sugar remains in your mouth, and the greater your risk of tooth decay.
But whilst the finger is often pointed at foods that are obviously sugary and sweet, many of us slip up on foods that are less obviously laden with sugar. The following are a few surprising examples of foods which are generally considered as ‘healthy’ but have a high proportion of sugar within them: dried fruits, tomato pasta sauce, coleslaw, bread and fruit juices. Another misleading label to look out for is ‘fat free’. Many yoghurts market themselves as ‘0%’ fat, yet contain over 50% of your recommended daily sugar intake. Not as healthy a treat as we first thought!
Still got a weakness for a custard tart? Here are a few simple tips to help you enjoy those sugary treats, but without your teeth suffering:
So, waistlines aside, sugar is undeniably bad for your teeth. However, by developing an awareness of the amount of sugar on your plate, and by following a responsible oral hygiene routine, you can still enjoy a sugary treat without needing to head straight for a filling. With that in mind, get your apron on, and listen out for those words… ‘on your marks, get set…BAKE!’.