World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations for added sugar intake should be halved to protect teeth from dental caries, suggests a review published in the Journal of Dental Research.
The WHO recommends that no more than 10% of calories should come from added sugars for optimal health, but this latest study found that people who consumed less than 5% of their calories in the form of added sugars had better dental health.
The UK researchers said that they found “a significant relationship” between reducing sugar intake to less than 5% of total calories and reduced risk of caries.
For a person consuming a 2000-calorie diet, that would equate to about six teaspoons of sugar. For comparison, a can of regular Coke contains about nine teaspoons of sugar.
The researchers used data from 55 meta-analyses conducted globally and looked at caries incidence and added sugar intake at both 10% and 5% of total energy. However, the study’s authors warned that despite the significant correlation between lower sugar intake and caries, the evidence was of low quality due to data variability.
“Of the studies, 42 out of 50 of those in children and 5 out of 5 in adults reported at least one positive association between sugars and caries,” they wrote.
They added that there was “evidence of moderate quality” suggesting that incidence of caries was lower when intake of added sugars was less than 10% of total energy.
Other recent research has suggested excess sugar consumption linked with poor oral hygiene could lead to more serious health conditions, beyond oral health. Research published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine earlier this year found that chronic infection from gum disease could trigger an inflammatory response linked to an increased risk of heart disease .
Source: Journal of Dental Research
Published online ahead of print. doi:10.1177/0022034513508954
“Effect on Caries of Restricting Sugars Intake: Systematic Review to Inform WHO Guidelines”
Authors: P.J. Moynihan, S.A.M. Kelly