If sugar consumption is considered the sole cause of dental caries, should we even have sugar at all? How much is too much?
Dental caries can be considered the most common disease affecting 35 percent of the world’s population. By the age of 12, the average number of carious, missing, and filled teeth is more than two years. In the United States, oral health among the elderly is also in a state of decline, with a quarter of them missing all of their teeth. The economic cost estimated to be spent on dental diseases due to sugar consumption is $100 billion.
As discussed in my video How to Stop Dental Caries, sugar consumption is regarded as the sole cause of dental caries. It is often referred to as a multifactorial disease including bacteria, plaque, saliva, brushing, and flossing. However, these factors seem to have only mitigating effects. All these other factors simply alter the speed at which sugar causes caries. „Without sugar, the causal chain is disrupted, so the disease does not occur.“
„Numerous studies from decades ago showed that in countries with very low sugar consumption, dental caries were almost non-existent“, and „new analyses show that the lifetime caries burden increases when sugar intake increases from 0% Ex [zero]… The most comprehensive national data come from… Japan… before, during, and after World War II“, where the frequency of caries paralleled per capita sugar intake, which dropped from about 8 percent of total calories to merely 0.1 percent, less than a teaspoon per week, before rising back to about 14 percent. Such studies indicate that cavities occurred even when sugar intake made up only 2 to 3 percent of calories consumed. Given that a prolonged disease in adults apparently does not occur manifest when sugar consumption is limited to less than 3 percent of total calories, a public health target is recommended to limit sugar intake to less than 3 percent. This led to the proposal of using traffic light food labels to highlight anything above 2.5 percent added sugar as „high“. This would make even comparatively low-sugar breakfast cereals like Cheerios „red light“ foods.
The recommended upper limit of 3 percent for daily added sugar intake would not even allow for young children to have a single average serving of any of the top ten breakfast cereals with the most advertising, which you can see below and at 2:21 in my video. Clearly, soda is off the table. A can of soda contains added sugar for almost two days.“
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry adopted the more pragmatic target of recommending children and adolescents to keep sugar intake under 5 percent, aligning with the World Health Organization’s conditional recommendations for children and adults. This is roughly the additional sugar intake dropped in Iraq when they were under sanctions, and dental caries rates were cut in half within a few years. Of course, sanctions can affect other things as well, like the life expectancy of children, though that was apparently fake news—a result of the „skillful government of Iraq.“
„If we really want to minimize a disease, the ideal goal would be to reduce the intake of free sugars (i.e. added sugars) to zero. This does not include the sugar naturally occurring in breast milk or in fruits. When it comes to added sugar intake, there does not seem to be a „threshold for sugar beneath which there are no harmful effects.“ Already at a sugar intake of 1 percent, there can be an exponential increase in caries rates.“
A researcher funded by Kellogg’s acknowledged that we might eradicate caries if the diet contained no sugar, but stated that „this ideal is impractical.“ The „dictatorial use of ‚tooth-friendly‘ foods … could promote a philosophy of dietary celibacy…[that] would not be applicable or acceptable for all individuals.“
Instead of recommending draconian reductions in sugar intake, the sugar industry responded that „attention would be better directed to … fluoride toothpaste.“
This is the perfect metaphor for the medical approach to civilization diseases in general. Why treat the cause when you can just treat the consequences? Why eat healthier to prevent and treat heart disease when we have all these statins and stents?
Not all sugars are equal. To explore this topic, check out my videos Flashback Friday: If Fructose Is Bad, What About Fruit? and Flashback Friday How Much Fruit Is Too Much?.
To get a sense of how powerful the sugar industry is, watch my video Big Sugar Takes Over the World Health Organization.
For more information on dental and oral health, check out the related videos below.