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Sugar consumption alters mouth flora and favors tooth decay
Most people are aware that increased sugar consumption can harm health and can lead to tooth decay, among other things. But according to researchers, even the sugar from a glass of apple spritzer can change the oral flora and promote tooth decay.
Health problems due to high sugar consumption
Nutrition and health experts keep warning about increased sugar consumption. If consumed frequently, the sweetener can lead to enormous health problems such as obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes. Sugar also promotes the development of tooth decay (tooth decay). Researchers are now pointing out that even very small amounts of the sweetener can have a negative effect on the oral flora.
Danger to the teeth
A study was recently published that showed that high sugar consumption leads to dental treatment costs in the billions.
But even relatively low sugar consumption can be harmful.
As researchers at the University Clinic of Freiburg have now directly demonstrated for the first time, the sugar from a glass of apple spritzer may be enough daily for the oral flora to change substantially.
The study was recently published in the scientific journal "Scienfic Reports".
Caries-specific changes in the oral flora
"Changed eating habits obviously lead to caries-specific changes in the oral flora quite quickly," explained study leader Prof. Dr. Elmar Hellwig, Medical Director of the Clinic for Tooth Conservation and Periodontology at the University Medical Center Freiburg, in a message.
"Foods such as sweets or fruit drinks for children, in which the sugar stays in the mouth for a long time, are particularly harmful to the teeth."
Around 2.4 billion people worldwide suffer from caries. Holes in the teeth, toothache and inflammation are the result.
The "expanded ecological plaque hypothesis" is assumed to be the cause. This means that bacteria that produce a great deal of acid as a waste product multiply particularly through high sugar consumption.
This acid in turn removes the calcium from the tooth and causes the holes. Other protective types of bacteria are therefore lost. So far it has not been possible to clarify whether this hypothesis is correct under natural conditions.
Every German consumes around 90 grams of sugar a day
The study participants sucked two grams of sugar candy five times a day for three months.
What sounds a lot at first is only a fraction of the daily sugar dose. Every German consumes an average of around 90 grams of sugar a day. A glass of apple spritzer already contains about ten grams.
In the study, the eleven subjects initially lived as usual for five weeks. Then followed the three months with additional sugar candy. The test subjects brushed their teeth normally throughout the entire period.
At the end of the control and test phase, the test subjects wore a dental splint several times for seven days, which contained small pieces of bovine teeth. These are very similar in structure to human teeth and are therefore often used for testing purposes.
“The subjects were able to remove the splint for eating and brushing their teeth. So her own dental health was not at risk. At the same time, a bacterial coating formed undisturbed on the tooth samples, ”said first author Dr. Annette Carola Anderson, biologist at the Clinic for Tooth Conservation and Periodontology at the University Medical Center Freiburg.
Together with scientists from the Helmholtz Center in Munich, the researchers examined the bacterial coating, also known as biofilm, on a molecular genetic basis.
Sugar consumption leads to a reduced diversity of bacteria in the mouth
They found that the number of different types of bacteria decreased significantly during sugar consumption. However, individual types of bacteria multiplied more, such as the Streptococcus bacteria involved in caries.
"This is the first time we can confirm the assumption that sugar consumption leads to a reduced bacterial diversity in the mouth," said co-study leader Prof. Ali Al-Ahmad, laboratory director and head of the "Oral Microbiology" department at the Clinic for Dental Hygiene and Periodontology University Hospital Freiburg.
"But there is obviously not the one type responsible for caries, but there are many involved in the development."
Under the microscope, the researchers examined whether the demineralization typical of caries could be seen.
"We found evidence of this, but no clear evidence. That is why we want to conduct the study with more subjects and a longer duration, ”says Prof. Al-Ahmad. (ad)