Dentist reveals how to stop treats from wrecking your teeth

  • Traditional summer treats like ice-cream and cider are high in sugar
  • But there are ways to help protect your teeth when you want to indulge
  • Dr Sameer Patel, is a director at London-based dental practice elleven
  • He explains how something as simple as drinking water can help 

With the good weather finally here, sitting in the sunshine offers the perfect excuse to enjoy some of our favourite summertime treats.

While the odd ice-cream, cocktail and cider may seem like a harmless indulgence, their high sugar content and acid levels could wreak havoc with our teeth.

But fear not, there are simple things you can do to help keep teeth and gums healthy while enjoying yourself.

Here, dentist Dr Sameer Patel, clinical director at London-based dental practice elleven, offers his expert tips.

ACIDIC FRUIT COCKTAILS

Cocktails like margaritas are acidic for our teeth so rinsing with water between drinks can help to protect teeth

Cocktails like margaritas are acidic for our teeth so rinsing with water between drinks can help to protect teeth

Fruit based cocktails, such as margaritas, are pumped with sugar – fructose and glucose – to give them their sweet flavours and appetising appearance. 

This sugar reacts to the oral bacteria in our mouths and produces an acid by-product which damages the sensitive enamel of your teeth. 

This, along with additional acids such as carbonic and citrus, significantly lowers the mouths natural PH concentration to a harmful level.

TIP: To reduce damage, try to drink a glass of water after each cocktail to help rinse the damaging sugars away and neutralise your mouths PH levels. 

If your cocktail glass is adorned with sweet decorative fruits, try to avoid sucking them, as this encourages the fruits natural sugars to further attack your teeth’s outer layer of enamel.

GARGLE AFTER ICE-CREAM

While dairy products such as ice cream contain calcium, an essential mineral for strong, healthy teeth, this benefit is often overpowered by the damaging effects of the excessive sugar used to enhance the its sweet flavour. 

The addition of sugary syrups and sauces further intensifies the destruction of healthy enamel, and can cause cavities and a build-up of plaque between the teeth. 

Ice-creams are the must have treats of summer but their high sugar content can play havoc with our teeth. Dr Patel recommends using mouthwash after eating 

Ice-creams are the must have treats of summer but their high sugar content can play havoc with our teeth. Dr Patel recommends using mouthwash after eating 

Having too much plaque in the crevices of your teeth can cause problems later on in life such as gum disease.

TIP: Dr Patel recommends using specialist mouth wash infused with fluoride after ice cream consumption and avoid those extra sugar filled sauces and syrups when purchasing your tasty treat. 

ICED FRAPPUCINOS 

Did you know that Frappuccino can contain up to 102 grams of sugar, the equivalent of drinking an entire litre of fizzy drink in one sitting? 

While these ice cold drinks seem appealing, you could be consuming almost double you recommended daily allowance of sugar in a matter of minutes. 

The high sugar content of frappucino is well known so have chewing gum on hand

The high sugar content of frappucino is well known so have chewing gum on hand

The high sugar content corrodes the outer surface of your teeth, eventually leading to tooth decay and exposing of the inner layers of the teeth, which can cause painful sensitivity. 

The extra coffee shot in these types of drinks can also lead to staining of the teeth.

TIP: If you must indulge, try to avoid brushing your teeth straight afterwards. 

The acid content temporarily softens your tooth enamel, which can be worn away if brushed. 

It is much more beneficial to rinse your mouth with water to help dilute the sugars. 

Try chewing sugar free gum after drinking a Frappuccino as chewing gum causes your mouth to produce excess saliva thus acting as a powerful barrier to help prevent tooth decay. 

Most coffee shops also offer lighter versions of their signature drinks which cut their sugar content down by approximately a third, so why not opt for one of these or even make your own, so you know exactly how much sugar is going into your drink. 

IS FROZEN YOGHURT A HEALTHIER OPTION? 

Frozen yoghurt is the go-to summer treat for those wanting to keep their diet in check while still keeping their sweet tooth satisfied. 

However while many people read the word yoghurt and assume this summer snack is a healthy daytime treat, the truth is, most frozen yoghurts contain artificial sweeteners and preservatives which can cause significant harm to your oral and physical health. 

Frozen yoghurts are nearly always lower in fat but the sugar content, especially from toppings we put on them, can lead us astray
Sauces and syrups can make healthy foods unhealthy

Frozen yoghurts are nearly always lower in fat but the sugar content, especially from toppings and sauces and syrups  (right) can undo the good work

The addition of syrups, sweets, and chocolate toppings scooped onto your frozen yoghurt also cause sugar content to increase dramatically. 

It therefore comes as no surprise that the average amount of sugar in frozen yoghurt is around 22g per serving.

TIP: Dr Patel suggests enjoying frozen yoghurt as an occasional treat, instead of a regular summer staple.

He also suggests sticking to the fruit based toppings instead of the artificial sweets and marshmallows on offer to reduce the amount of artificial sugar being consumed.

FRUIT CIDER 

Cider contains more sugar than wine and beer with up to six teaspoons a glass

Cider contains more sugar than wine and beer with up to six teaspoons a glass

Before you reach for your ice cold fruity cider on a warm summer’s day in the pub garden, it is important to remember that a single glass of fruit cider can contain up to five teaspoons of sugar – far higher than in wine and beer.

The World Health Organisation recently announced that no more than 10 per cent of an individual’s daily calories should come from sugar.

Many experts recommend an adult’s total daily sugar consumption should be just six teaspoons, only one teaspoon more than the average amount of sugar in fruit cider.

TIP: To best reduce the chance of damage, use a straw when drinking a serving of fruit cider to avoid the sugary liquid hitting the front of your teeth. 

Limiting the exposure to these acidic drinks can also be beneficial to your oral health. 

Also try not to sip your drink over a prolonged period of time, as each time we put the liquid into our mouths, we expose our teeth to a 20 minute acid attack before our saliva can neutralise it.

 

Health | Mail Online