At our Eugene family dentistry, Dr. Rita Feldmanis strives to help protect her patients’ long-term oral health by providing exceptional dental care and advice about the best practices for protecting the health of their teeth and gums. While brushing and flossing remain two of the most important habits patients can have to help protect their oral health, maintaining a balanced diet can also play an enormous role in preventing tooth decay and gum disease.
Plaque – a harmful biofilm made of oral bacteria and food particles that linger in the mouth after eating – uses the sugars we consume to produce acids that slowly erode away tooth enamel. The more sugar in an individual’s diet, the more likely they are to suffer from tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
Unfortunately, despite the risks associated with consuming excess sugar, many people avoid changing their dietary habits because they don’t fully understand the risks linked with sugar to stop buying items like soda and other sugary beverages. But a new study finds that the better informed consumers become about the dangers presented by sugar, the more likely they are to start cutting back.
Labels that warn consumers about the risks of drinking soda and other artificially sweetened beverages can help to reduce obesity, one of the most common health risks linked to diets high in sugar.
The study – conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health – used computer modeling to simulate daily activities like beverage and food shopping in Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Baltimore and discovered that warning labels in retail locations that sell sugary beverages would help to lower obesity rates due to a reduce intake of daily calories.
The Value of a Warning
The virtual warning labels used in the study included messages about how added sugar contributes to the development of diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay. In Baltimore, the prevalence of obesity would decrease by 1.69 percent, and the number of overweight individuals would drop by 1.39 percent. In San Francisco, obesity would drop by 4.08 percent while the number of overweight individuals would decrease by 3.1 percent. In Philadelphia, obesity rates would drop by 2.17 percent and the prevalence of overweight individuals by .36 percent.
The variations between the different cities was explained by researchers as being due to the percentage of obese and overweight individuals that currently exist within the different population groups. While this type of warning would have a positive impact on the number of obese and overweight people living in each city, the impact would only be minor when considering total populations overall. Such types of warnings would therefore not be the only solution for trying to combat the growing obesity epidemic in the U.S.
“We found that sugary-drink warning labels may help decrease obesity and overweight prevalence across a wide variety of circumstances,” wrote Dr. Bruce Lee, the study’s lead author. “A warning label is able to decrease a person’s chance of purchasing a sugary beverage by 4 percent, when nearly half of children cannot read the labels or when many people replace drinking soda with eating more.”
Early research has found that the consumption of sugary beverages has contributed to the tooth decay and obesity epidemics currently enveloping the U.S., especially among kids. The daily calories consumed from sugary beverages has increased by 20 percent among kids between the ages of 6 to 11 over the last 20 years, according to data collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Diet the Key to Better Oral & Overall Health
With sugar consumption on the rise in children, the future seems certain to hold many adults that grew up with a sweet tooth. Whether you’re a parent or have a daily soda habit you just cannot quit, it’s important that regular brushing and flossing becomes a key part of the entire family’s daily routine.
Brushing helps to remove plaque from the surface of our teeth, thereby reducing the impact consuming sugar has on our tooth enamel. Flossing works to remove plaque and foods particles from areas of our mouth a toothbrush cannot reach, between our teeth and below the gum line. Combining these habit with scheduling regular exams and cleanings with Dr. Feldmanis at our Eugene family dentistry can help ensure a bright, healthy smile for years to come.