Is the amount of junk food you eat hurting your teeth?

By Dr Anthony Hua

It is that time of the year where we might need a reminder that we’re possibly eating too much junk food. Easter has just come and gone, and the weather is about to get cooler, which means cosy nights and comfort eating.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s national science agency, has just released a new tool for the community called the Junk Food Analyser, which has been created to track how much junk food you actually consume.

According to the findings in a recent survey, CSIRO has discovered that nearly 80 per cent of Australians are consuming junk food and foods high in sugar daily. This new tool has been developed to provide the community with a greater understanding of their discretionary food intake and where they can make improvements to their eating habits.

It works in conjunction with serious oral health issues, as detailed in the Australian Dental Association Oral Health Tracker. The Oral Health Tracker shows that almost 48 per cent of all adults are consuming too much added sugar, which plays a significant role in developing dental cavities and the development of oral diseases that are largely preventable.

From the survey it shows the top weaknesses of discretionary foods and drinks were:

  • Alcohol (21%)
  • Cakes and biscuits (19%)
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages (12%)
  • Savoury pies and pastries (9%)

While the foods on the top of the lists are high in sugar, kilojoules, and fat, they are also the ‘feel good’ foods that give us eating addictions, so alternative methods should be explored rather than to cut them out altogether from the start.

The CSIRO encourages people to take the test to see what foods they are over-indulging in first and then reduce their kilojoules intake in an achievable way with various strategies. Sustainability is the key, to help people enjoy the consumption of their favourite discretionary foods and drinks in the context of an overall healthy diet.

Top ways to reduce discretionary food intake is:

  • Eliminate that type of food (resulting in a 26% reduction in kJ)
  • Half the amount you eat (resulting in a 17% reduction in kJ)
  • Cut back and eat less often (resulting in a 6-18% reduction in kJ)

According to the Australian Dental Association (ADA), oral diseases share many common risk factors with diseases that affect whole-body health. These can include non-nutritious diets high in sugar, tobacco use, and the regular consumption of alcohol at risky levels. While oral diseases are among the most common and costly to the Australian health system, many oral conditions are largely preventable, including dental cavities, periodontitis, and oral cancers.

The first step in addressing whether you’re eating over the daily requirement of junk food is to take the quick Junk Food Analyser test. Secondly, book an appointment with your dentist so they can give you a comprehensive assessment of your current oral health.

With a professional oral hygiene appointment at Burleigh Dental Studio, we can give you a gentle but comprehensive examination, scale and clean, fluoride treatment and assess for any further treatment necessary. We can also work with you on preventative measures to help stop further decay in the future.

dr anthony huaArticle by Dr Anthony Hua – Principal Dentist

Dr Anthony Hua is the Founder & Principal Dentist at Burleigh Dental Studio. His passion, expertise and dedication to the field of dentistry have been recognised by his achievement of Fellowship status with the Australian Society of Implant Dentistry (ASID) and the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI).

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