Canadian Dietary Guidelines Link Sugar Consumption to Tooth Decay

Dentistry Today


Health Canada’s recently released Canada’s Dietary Guidelines for Health Professionals and Policy Makers aim to “promote healthy eating and overall nutritional well-being” and serve as “a resource for developing nutrition policies, programs and educational resources for members of the Canadian population two years of age and older.”

The publication marks the first time that the Canadian government has published dietary guidelines specifically mentioning the link between sugar consumption and tooth decay. It also highlights the relationship between oral diseases and other non-communicable diseases, reinforcing the connection between oral health and overall health.

“Oral diseases, such as dental decay, share common nutrition-related risk factors with some of the leading chronic diseases in Canada such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” the guidelines’ authors report. 

Going beyond a simple “how-to” guide to healthy eating, the publication includes chapters on the importance of sharing meals with others and how diverse social and environmental factors influence food choices and eating behaviors, as well as a detailed glossary of terms that lists a definition for dental decay. 

The guide also recommends eating a variety of healthy foods each day, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, some protein, and whole grains. It suggests limits on foods high in salt, saturated fat, and free sugars. The guide further notes that sugary treats, which have little to no nutritional value, often stick to the teeth and increase the risk of tooth decay. 

“Promoting the consumption of water instead of sugary drinks, and reducing the intake of confectionaries to a minimum, are important ways to help Canadians decrease free sugars intake and reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and dental decay,” the guidelines report.

According to Health Canada, dental decay affects 57% of Canadian children between the ages of 6 and 11 and 96% of Canadian adults over their lifetime. Poor oral health can cause discomfort and pain, inhibiting productivity and leading to social isolation. Also, dental service expenditures totaled approximately $13.6 billion in Canada in 2015.

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