How to Prevent the Need for Fillings

How to Prevent the Need for Fillings

Fillings are caused by decay and the biggest cause of decay is sugar. I find many patients don’t realise that it’s not necessarily the amount of sugar that causes decay, but the frequency of the sugar intake. If we can prevent decay starting then we could reduce the need for fillings. Hopefully, the following information will help you understand the decay process and explain what you can do to improve your oral health.


Why Decay Happens

All mouths contain bacteria. Every time you put sugar in your mouth, the bacteria use the sugar and produce acid. This acid attacks the teeth causing it to demineralise.

Given enough time the teeth will remineralise and therefore recover.

However, if more sugar is put into the mouth in a short space of time then you will get further demineralization. The situation is a balance, but if the demineralization outweighs the remineralisation then the tooth will start to develop a hole.


The process is less about the amount of sugar that goes into your mouth but more about the frequency of the sugar intake.

Modern life means that sugary food and drink are readily available and we don’t think twice about what we put in our mouths. In order to work out what may be causing the problem, dentists use diet analysis sheets to list everything you eat or drink in a week and the time it is consumed. This analysis can be done yourself, in a simple way by looking at what you’re eating and drinking in a weekly planner.

A more thorough list of problem foods is listed below. One of the main issues is sugar in tea and coffee.

How many sugars do you have in tea or coffee?

How many cups do you have a day?

By simply cutting out the sugar or replacing it with sweetener then this can vastly reduce your risk of decay.


Another source of high sugar content is in fruit.

This is one food group that often gets over-looked as fruit is very good for us. However, it does also contain huge amounts of natural sugars. As a profession, we would never advise you to stop eating fruit but just try to eat it at more sensible times such as immediately after meals rather than as snacks.

This advice applies to every adult however if you are a parent you also have the responsibility of looking after your children’s teeth. Given a chance children will eat sugary things all day long. As a parent, it is our responsibility to control what food and drink pass their lips.

Decay is a totally preventable disease but at the moment tooth removal due to decay is the biggest reason for a child in the UK to be admitted to hospital.

If good habits are instilled at a young age then these good habits will then be transferred to adulthood.

Prevention of decay is especially important for people that are nervous about having treatment. It is much better to try to prevent any problems rather than having treatment to address new decay.

If you need any further advise or need a thorough examination to make sure you are decay-free then please contact the practice and we can arrange an assessment appointment.

Please see the advice below as to what foods and drinks contain sugar and some top tips on how to prevent problems (this list is not exhaustive but is meant as a guide):


Most sugars in the diet are in processed foods and drinks:

  • sugar & chocolate confectionery
  • cakes, biscuits, buns, fruit pies, pastries
  • puddings, fruit yoghurts, ice cream
  • table sugar
  • sugared breakfast cereals
  • fruit in syrup
  • fresh fruit juice and smoothies
  • any fizzy drinks
  • sugared milk drinks, milkshakes, cocoa • sugar-containing alcoholic drinks
  • dried fruits e.g. raisins, apricots
  • syrups and sauces


Watch out for hidden sugars found in foods for example ketchup, mayonnaise, flavoured crisps and baked beans.

Look at the ingredients list on foods, anything ending in -OSE means sugar. e.g. maltose, glucose, sucrose, fructose etc.


Particularly watch out for sugar in antacid tablets, cough/throat sweets, breath mints and any sweets that dissolve slowly in the mouth. These can be particularly damaging.

Fizzy drinks, fruit squashes (including those that say ‘no added sugar’), fruit juice and smoothies will all cause decay and acid erosion. Try to only have these drinks at a meal. Drink tap water or tea/coffee without sugar in between meals.

Fresh fruit should ideally be eaten at mealtimes. Some fruits such as bananas cause a lot of decay and citrus fruits can cause decay and acid erosion of the teeth.
However, it is still important to eat 5 portions of fruit or vegetables every day.

Too much sugar is also bad for your general health as well as your teeth. Too much sugar can lead to obesity, diabetes and some cancers.


Top Tips

  • Don’t snack in between meals.
  • If you have to snack the best foods are savoury such as: raw carrots, cucumber, celery and peppers, a chunk of cheese, plain cheese biscuit such as oatcakes, breadsticks, rice cakes, plain crisps (rather than flavoured), crumpets, pitta bread.
  • Drink plain tap water or tea/coffee without sugar in between meals.
  • Don’t eat sugary foods within an hour of bedtime.
  • Chewing sugar-free gum after eating may help to increase the salivary flow which helps the teeth to repair themselves.


If you’re situated in SheffieldBarnsleyDoncaster and surrounding areas give us a call on 01709 917666 to discuss becoming a patient.

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