Sugar & Health

Dental Health & Sugar

Learn more about the relationship between sugar and dental health.

There are a variety of risk factors for dental cavities.

Frequent consumption of foods and drinks that contain fermentable carbohydrates (including sugars, both naturally occurring and added) can increase the risk of cavities. Fermentable carbohydrates can be broken down by bacteria in your mouth to produce acid that can lead to tooth decay without proper dental hygiene. Other risk factors include poor dental hygiene and lack of fluoridated water or dental products.1

While there are many studies about the relationship between dental cavities, the amount of sugar consumed and the frequency of sugar intake, recent reviews2-7 and recommendations8-10 are mixed about whether there’s sufficient evidence to set an upper level of intake of added sugars to reduce the risk of dental cavities.

The best ways to protect your teeth are to brush them with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and reduce the amount of time your teeth are exposed to these carbohydrates. You can accomplish this by limiting sugary foods and drinks at mealtimes.1

Teaching kids about dental hygiene can be fun. Our One Tooth Brochure is a great resource.

sugar and its role on teeth


  1. American Dental Association. For the Dental Patient: Tackling Tooth Decay. The Journal of the American Dental Association. 2013;144(3):336.
  2. Breda J, Jewell J, Keller A. The Importance of the World Health Organization Sugar Guidelines for Dental Health and Obesity Prevention. Caries Research. 2018;53:149–152.
  3. Sheiham A, James WP. A new understanding of the relationship between sugars, dental caries and fluoride use: implications for limits on sugars consumption. Public Health Nutrition. 2014;17:2176–2184.
  4. van Loveren C. Sugar Restriction for Caries Prevention: Amount and Frequency. Which Is More Important? Caries Research. 2018;53(2):168-175.
  5. Bradshaw DJ, Lynch RJ. Diet and the microbial aetiology of dental caries: new paradigms. International Dental Journal. 2013;63(Suppl 2), 64-72.
  6. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. Carbohydrates and Health. UK: The Stationery Office Limited; 2015:2.
  7. Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. 2005.
  8. European Food Safety Authority Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies. Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for carbohydrates and dietary fibre. EFSA Journal. 2010;8:1462.
  9. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015.
  10. World Health Organization. Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children. Geneva: World Health Organization. 2015.
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