Dental caries is the most common chronic disease in the world and is closely related to lifestyle, oral hygiene and dietary habits. Exposure to sugar in food and beverages is a significant risk factor for dental caries at all ages and especially during childhood.
In Israel, more than half of the children suffer from caries with an average of 3 infected teeth already at preschool age. The incidence rate of caries in Israel is particularly high in low socio-economic status clusters. The rate of severe carries in early childhood among Bedouin children is particularly high. In many cases, caries requires complex treatment under general anesthesia.
The main cause of dental caries is the sugar in food and beverages. Exposure to sugar increases the level of acidity in the oral cavity and causes the release of minerals from the covering layer of teeth, thus creating caries, lesions, loss of tooth material, pain and risk of infections.
Dental caries is not just pain
The developing of dental caries leads to pain, reduced function, loss of teeth, aesthetic damage and possible infections in the oral cavity that may endanger health and sometimes jeopardise life. The complex treatment is unpleasant – and costly.
Dental caries in children
Caries damages both the teeth and the structure of the chewing system, may impair eating and sleeping habits, lead to insufficient physical development (height and weight) and an increase in emergency room visits and hospitalizations due to complications. Caries treatment in the early childhood and among children is complex and longer than usual and in many cases is performed under general anesthesia.
Caries may have consequences for the child socially and academically. Toothaches and dental treatments may lead to loss of school days, aesthetic damage, social problems and low self-esteem and negative body image. Caries in deciduous teeth may spread to adjacent teeth and even damage the permanent tooth. Loss of deciduous teeth may also lead to loss of space for the sprout of permanent teeth, thus causing functional and aesthetic disturbance.
Caries in adults
Poor oral health can lead to a decrease in the quality of life in adults and problems in daily functioning due to tooth loss, toothache, facial drop and an effect on nutrition such as a decrease in the ability to chew, fewer consumption of solid foods and preference for soft foods.
The decrease in the quality of life related to caries also includes social aspects due to speech difficulties, lower self-esteem, fewer communication with others and more.
Sweet and carbonated beverages
Drinking sweetened beverages creates an environment that endangers the dental health, especially when the sugar quantity and the frequency of consumption are high.
Sweet and carbonated beverages have a particular high potential to lower the acidity level in the oral cavity and damage the dental health. Even sugar-free soda water has the potential to damage the enamel in an acidic environment. It is preferable to consume it in moderation to avoid dental damage.
Bottle feeding – sugar is unnecessary
Sweet drinks may cause a prolonged impact on the teeth in babies and significantly increase the risk of early childhood caries. The damage to the teeth is especially high at night when the secretion of saliva is low and the ability to neutralize the sugar by saliva decreases.
The teeth shape the smile and are important for speaking, eating, maintaining health and general well being.
Permanent teeth, which start to grow at the age of 6, should be used for many years and we must take care of them.
How to keep the teeth healthy? Mostly by avoiding harmful habits
- Make sure you eat healthy and diverse foods and consume foods rich in sugar as little as possible.
- Avoid or reduce the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, including fruit juices. More on the harsh cost of soft drinks.
- Get used to drink tap water at any age and in any situation.
- Brush your teeth twice a day in the morning and in the evening before going to bed. See toddler and child toothbrushing recommendationsin the parents' leaflet.
- Visit the dentist for a periodic check, as often as the dentist recommends.
- Encouraging children to brush their teeth - Chazak - video for the Haredi sector (with Hebrew captions)
- Avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages - Chazak - video for the Haredi sector (with Hebrew captions)
Dental health – a leaflet for parents (Hebrew)
Dental Health Division at the Ministry of Health