Well, apparently the answer is yes. It not only comes in different forms, but it also comes in different names. Under these names, sugar has stealthy hidden among the other ingredients in many indecipherable labels. From soft drinks to salad dressings to organic entrees, how can you avoid the single worst thing for your teeth? It used to be so easy. But fructose, dextrose, glucose, corn syrup, honey, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, dextrin, barley malt syrup…in whose pastry crust? Who could keep track anymore? Even the most astute label readers among us were floored.
Just how much sugar?
Just two hundred years ago, the average American ate a mere 2 pounds of sugar every year. By 1970, the sugar consumption rate increased to 123 pounds of sugar. Today, the average American consumes 152 pounds of sugar in one year. That’s the equivalent of 6 cups of sugar in one week! Apparently, my sugar shock led to this epiphany. How can any dentist assume you can limit your intake of sugary sweets and drinks when it’s secretly masquerading in the very foods you buy? So here’s a quick list of the most popular sugar names appearing on your grocer’s shelves:
- Sucrose – You might recognize its other name as “cane sugar,” which happens to be 100% sucrose. In simple terms, it’s half glucose (starch) and half fructose (sweetness.) Not only is it in cane sugar, but in every caloric sweetener including white sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar and agave nectar. Sometimes, it’s listed by itself.
- Evaporated Cane Juice – It may sound healthy, but it’s shown up in some yogurts and snacks. It’s simply sweeteners derived from sugar cane syrup.
- Agave Nectar – This item too has a healthy sounding name, but its 85% fructose. That’s a higher fructose content than cane sugar.
- Fruit Juice Concentrate – Concentrate is formed when water is extracted from fruit juice and then what’s left is sugar. You can find this in fruit bars, applesauce and other fruity snacks.
- 100% Fruit Juice – It may be organic and no-sugar-added, but it will never be as good as whole fruit. Actually, 100% orange juice has 5.8 teaspoons of sugar per cup as compared to the 5.4 teaspoons found in soda.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup – Processed from cornstarch, it’s not any different than sucrose.
- Galactose, Maltose, Dextrose, and Lactose – Generally anything ending in –ose, is sugar. Some occur naturally; others are processed.
Other names for sugar you may find on food labels include: honey, sorghum syrup, corn syrup, sorbitol, molasses, corn sweetener, brown sugar and syrup.
Most patients believe that if they simply brush twice daily and floss once daily they are doing all they can to protect themselves from tooth decay. But by decreasing your added sugars and hidden sugar consumption you can most definitely decrease your chances of cavities and tooth loss. According to a recent published study from the Newcastle University’s Centre for Oral Health Research, scientists believe making it a priority to seek out food and drink items that are low in sugar is a great way to avoid tooth decay well into our golden years. Their recommendation: engineer your diet so your daily caloric intake includes only 10 percent sugar. And if you really want to keep that beautiful and natural smile decay free for a lifetime, they even recommend decreasing it by another half: to 5 percent.
With regular checkups, cleanings and proper oral hygiene, my skilled, caring team and I want you to have your smile for a lifetime. Whatever your dental circumstances, we at Dr. Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD can ensure your privacy, safety and comfort. Most of all, we offer a pain-free, relaxed and friendly experience with state-of-the-art technology and dental techniques. We also understand the importance of taking the time to educate and appropriately guide you to the best possible choices available to you. Come experience a different kind of dental practice: one that’s built on the trust and loyalty of its many patients. We’ll both take pride in your smile!
Until Next Time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD
Your Southfield Family Dentist
Tel: (248) 356-8790