7 July 2015

Votes are in and the British public have unanimously said we are most likely to reach for the red bottle at our barbecues this summer.

Facing fierce opposition from other saucy summer stalwart's, ketchup put the squeeze on the competition to be crowned king of condiments, collecting more than a third (34%) of votes.

The results of the poll, carried out on the British Dental Health Foundation, saw other public favourites beaten to the top table; BBQ (21%), mayonnaise (20%), chilli (13%), mustard (8%) and brown sauce (4%).

Although tasty, these results may not be great news for the nation's teeth, with well-known ketchup brands such as Heinz being made up of more than a fifth sugar1, a major cause of tooth decay.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, commented, "The British summer is a wonderful and unique time we all relish, and in the few days that the rain clouds clear a barbecue is undoubtedly a big part of this, some of us don't even wait until the umbrellas are down.

"What is unavoidable though is the fact that a lot of our summer favourites are surprisingly high in sugar which, from the point of view of dental health, could mean big problems for our teeth.

"Although we are all well aware of the levels of sugar in most things we consume in the summer, such as sweet alcoholic drinks and ice cream, we are likely to overlook things such as sauces when it comes to sugar intake. Amazingly, some sauces can have even higher levels of sugar than soft drinks and therefore be more harmful to our teeth.

"Sauces, such as ketchup, have an added impact as they are sticky and can cling to our teeth, and as they are acidic this can contribute to further erosion if consumed too frequently and the teeth are not being looked after as well as they should."

Tooth decay happens when sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque. This forms the acids that attack the teeth and destroy the enamel. After this happens many times, the tooth enamel may break down, forming a hole or 'cavity'. Tooth decay almost always leads to fillings and can even lead to teeth having to be removed.

Early tooth decay can have no obvious symptoms, but your dental team may be able to spot a cavity in its early stages when they examine your teeth. This is why you should visit your dental team regularly, as small cavities are much easier to treat than advanced decay.

Dr Carter continued: "By no means should we stop indulging in our summer favourites but it is important that we are aware of what is in them so we can make an informed decision. Remember, it is how often we have sugary foods and drinks that cause the problem so it is important that we try and reduce the frequency of consumption.

"My advice to you all this summer is to drink plenty of water, especially directly after eating. Water neutralises the effects of acidic and sugary foods and also removes food particles left behind on and between the teeth. This also has the added effect of helping you to stay hydrated. Some products even offer low sugar varieties, which may be a better option.

"You could also chew sugar-free gum after eating which makes your mouth produce more saliva, this helps to cancel out the acid in your mouth. It has been proven that using sugar-free chewing gum after meals can prevent tooth decay. However, it is important to use only sugar-free gum, as ordinary chewing gum contains sugar and therefore may damage your teeth."