SADA Policy Statement

Dietary Free Sugars and Dental Caries

There is extensive scientific literature on dental caries that supports the view that free sugars are a necessary dietary factor in the development of dental caries. Dietary free sugars are “all monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods and drinks by manufacturers, when cooking and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and concentrates”.

New dietary recommendations from the Word Health Organisation (WHO) recommend limits on free sugars intake to reduce the incidence of caries. WHO recommended ‘free sugars’ be limited to a daily average of no more than 10% of total calories for adults and even less for children. WHO also suggested limiting intake of these sugars to 5%, or roughly 25g, of total calories to minimise the risk of dental caries throughout one’s life.

The scope of this policy statement is to focus on a brief review of the association between sugars and dental caries.

Dietary free sugars are the primary dietary factor responsible for caries – as sugars induce the proliferation of cariogenic bacteria and their metabolism results in acids that cause demineralisation of enamel and dentine. This in turn leads to caries. Each additional 5 grams of sugar intake has been associated with an increase in the probability of developing caries.

SADA is committed to:

  • Advocate for the reduction of free sugars consumption as part of an integrated food policy, which seeks to create a supportive environment conducive to good health.
  • Advocate caries prevention measures that focus on individuals to reduce free sugars consumption in general and sugars sweetened beverages consumption.
  • Advocate for oral health professionals and public health practitioners to play an active and important role in promoting health food policies and encourage their patients to reduce their intake of free sugars consumption as part of their food intake.

This document has been modified according to the FDI policy on dietary free sugars and dental caries.