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Our Calgary Dentist Gets the Facts on Sugar and Your Dental Health.

Our Calgary Dentist Gets the Facts on Sugar and Your Dental Health.

How many times have you been told by your Calgary dentist that sugar is bad for your dental health?  Undoubtedly, more times that you can count.  But have you ever wondered how much sugar certain types of foods and beverages actually contain, and what the daily recommended sugar intake is for men and women?  Our Calgary dentist reviews these questions below.

Sugary snacks and drinks are a treat that most of us indulge in from time to time, including our very own Calgary dentist, Dr. Dirk Thompson, who has great affection for chocolate everything.  Unfortunately, the bacteria in your mouth feeds on the sugars in these treats and, in the process, produce acid that can damage your teeth and lead to tooth erosion and cavities. 

Although eliminating sugary foods and drinks from your diet would be the very best option, our Calgary dentist realizes that this is likely not realistic for most people.  According to our Calgary dentist, the goal should therefore be to try to reduce the number of sugary drinks and snacks you indulge in on a daily basis.  The best way to do this is to start with an awareness of exactly how much sugar you are actually consuming in some of your favourite beverages and snacks and what the daily recommendations for sugar intake are.

According to a position statement issued by Diabetes Canada, their recommendation is that individuals limit their intake of “free sugars” to less than 10% of their total daily calories.  Based upon a diet of 2000 calories per day, this equates to approximately 50 grams (12 teaspoons) of “free sugars” per day.  “Free sugars” are sugars that are extracted from their original source to make sweeteners and preservatives and then added to foods.  Examples of “free sugars” include white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, honey, maple syrup, corn sweeteners, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, agave nectar, cane juice, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, barley malt and agave nectar.

The American Heart Association’s recommendation is similar to that of Diabetes Canada (  The American Heart Association’s recommendation is as follows:

  • For Men: maximum consumption should be 36 grams (about 9 teaspoons) or 150 calories of added sugar per day
  • For Women: maximum consumption should be 25 grams (about 6 teaspoons) or 100 calories of added sugar per day

To put these recommendations into perspective, here are some examples of the sugar content in various foods and beverages (all numbers are approximations and vary between products):

  • One 355 ml can of pop contains 10 teaspoons of sugar
  • One 400 ml bottle of sports drink contains 5 teaspoons of sugar
  • One 250 ml glass of juice contains 5 ½ teaspoons of sugar
  • One 360 ml cup of specialty coffee contains 7 teaspoons of sugar
  • One chocolate bar has between 4 and 8 teaspoons of sugar (depending upon the type of chocolate bar)
  • Sugary cereals have between 6 to 7 teaspoons of sugar per 100 grams of cereal

In addition to reducing the amount of sugar you consume each day, our Calgary dentist also recommends taking a few other simple steps that can help to protect your pearly whites.  Here are some of our Calgary dentist’s suggestions:

 Don’t Sip Your Beverages

If you do choose to treat yourself to a soda, sweetened coffee or juice, our Calgary dentist’s advice is to drink it in one sitting, rather than to continue to sip at it over a period of time.  Sipping your beverage gives bacteria more time to consume the sugar in your drink, thereby creating more acid that can cause cavities and tooth decay. If you decide to give your young child some juice, our Calgary dentist recommends that you try to limit it to meal times only and give your child a sippy cup filled with water to sip at during the day.

Use A Sugar Substitute

If you’re like our Calgary dentist and the thought of having your morning cup of coffee without any sugar makes you want to crawl back into bed, consider using a plant-based sugar substitute such as stevia.  According to the American Heart Association, these sweeteners are “generally recognized as safe” based on published research ( 

Brush and Floss Your Teeth

It’s simple advice but nevertheless tried and true: brush your teeth twice per day for two minutes at a time.  If you have children, make sure you check that they are brushing their teeth adequately and not missing any teeth.  If you would like, our Calgary dentist would be happy to show your child how to brush their teeth.  Our Calgary dentist and dental hygienist can also make recommendations for different types of toothbrushes that are easy for little hands to hold and maneuver.

And don’t forget, as soon as your child gets their first tooth, you should be helping them to clean between their teeth.  If you find that it is difficult to use dental floss on your child, ask our Calgary dentist for recommendations for other dental flossing devices that will make this task easier for both you and your child.

It’s Not Easy, But It’s Worth It!

Changing your eating habits is not an easy task. Our Calgary dentist recommends taking small, simple steps that can lead to bigger changes that will not only benefit your oral health, but also your overall health.  A great place to start making small changes is learning about what is in the food you and your family eat and setting a positive example to your family by making healthy food choices throughout the day, including choosing plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

If you would like more information on how to keep your smile healthy, happy and beautiful for a lifetime, call our Calgary dentist office for a consultation appointment today.  Our office is located in the beautiful NW community of Kensington in Calgary.  We are always warmly welcoming new patients and have early morning, evening and week-end appointments available to fit your busy lifestyle.  Call us today.  We’re here for you and your family!

This blog post written by our Calgary dentist, Dr. Dirk Thompson, D.D.S., is for informational purposes only.  It is not to be taken or used as a substitute for dental, medical or other professional advice, treatment or diagnosis.  Always ask your dentist, physician or other healthcare professional for advice before altering your diet or healthcare routine.  Individual patient needs and oral healthcare concerns vary so please consult your dentist for more information about your specific dental health requirements.

Copyright 2021: Dirk A. Thompson Professional Corporation operating as Advance Your Health Dental.  Dr. Dirk A. Thompson, D.D.S., is a general dentist in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


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