Health & Safety

July 11, 2014

Army dentists fight uphill battle against sugar

Col. Georgia Roger
DMD, MPH

Consultant to the Surgeon General for Dental Public Health

Sugar is being called “the new tobacco.” Its many forms have been linked to the increasing rates of diabetes, heart disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and other chronic diseases in the U.S.

Army dentists have been fighting on the front lines against sugar for decades. Despite their best efforts, tooth decay continues to be the main cause of dental disease and non-battle injuries among deployed Soldiers. From 2000 to 2008, the oral health of military recruits worsened. The 2008 Tri-Service Oral Health Survey revealed that Army recruits have higher numbers of untreated cavities compared to other Department of Defense recruits. A study at the largest Army installation showed that about one third of Soldiers develop new treatment needs every year.

Army Soldiers have better access to education about oral hygiene and proper nutrition, fluoridated water, fluoride toothpaste and dental care than many Americans. But Army dentists report that these defenses can’t compensate for Soldiers’ frequent snacking habits and the popularity of soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened coffee, sweet tea and coffee boutique drinks such as frappacinos.

Army dentists are all too familiar with the rampant decay that results when a Soldier sips on sugary drinks throughout the day. Drinks that contain high amounts of sugar, caffeine and citrus flavors often cause extensive tooth decay, likely due to the combination of high sugar content and organic acids.

Young Soldiers often don’t pay attention to the sugar, calories or caffeine in their drinks. One large iced coffee can have 11 teaspoons of sugar. But even if they check the label, looks can be deceiving. The amount of sugar, caffeine and carbohydrates per serving listed on a single can of an energy drink may not seem that bad, but the can actually contains two servings so you must multiply by 2. The most popular Energy drink purchased at Army & Air Force Exchange stores, a 16-ounce Monster, has 13 teaspoons, and the most popular soda, a 20-ounce Mountain Dew, has over 18 teaspoons of sugar.

Caffeine and sugar have both been shown to be addictive, and Soldiers are just as vulnerable to the caffeine rush and sugar high as other Americans. During deployment or intense training courses, Soldiers can come to depend on these drinks to stay awake and alert, or to relieve boredom. They return home with souvenirs that they would rather not have — a mouthful of new cavities.

Col. Johnette Shelley, director of Health and Wellness at Dental Command, recommends Soldiers practice the following countermeasures to protect themselves from decay:
Replace sugared beverages with sugar-free alternatives, plain water, mineral water or unsweetened coffee or tea.

Fruit juice also contains sugar and acid, so limit juice to six ounces of calcium-fortified juice per day. Eat fresh fruit to meet daily fruit intake goals.

Drink sugary or acidic drinks quickly, within 15 minutes, rather than sipping on them for an extended period of time.

Limit meal, beverage and snack intake to no more than five times per day. Combine sugary beverages or juice with a meal, ideally near the beginning of the meal.

Try to drink sugary, erosive drinks cold to minimize the acidic effects.

Use a straw that reaches to the back of the tongue to keep the drink away from your teeth.

Drink plain water immediately following the sugared drink to ‘wash’ it off of the teeth and neutralize the acid from the drink. Also chew sugar-free or xylitol gum to help neutralize acid.

Wait at least 20 minutes after drinking sugary beverages or 100-percent fruit juice before brushing teeth with fluoridated toothpaste.

Do not rinse your mouth after brushing. Just spit several times to remove the excess toothpaste. Also, don’t eat or drink anything for at least 20 – 30 minutes after brushing so the fluoride will stay on your teeth as long as possible in order to protect them better.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Photos by Jen Monson

World Suicide Prevention Day Candlelight Vigil held in SV

Photos by Jen Monson The Buena High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Color Guard present the colors during the World Suicide Prevention Day Candlelight Vigil, Sept. 10, at Sierra Vista’s Veterans’ Memorial Park....
 
 
J.D. Leipold

Are you, your Family prepared for an emergency or disaster?

J.D. Leipold Bill Newman of the Army’s Emergency Management Program at the Pentagon speaks with a Soldier about creating an emergency kit for his Family. The “Ready Army” display at the Pentagon early this month was part ...
 
 

Preventing suicide: ‘Power of 1’ could save a life

WASHINGTON — As Suicide Prevention Month and year-long Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs efforts continue to combat suicide, Pentagon officials emphasize the importance of the power of one, peer support and resources. The DoD, in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, has launched “The Power of 1” campaign in observance of Suicide...
 

 

Dietary supplements: Safety still an issue, better options available

SAN ANTONIO — Being a Soldier is as physically demanding, at times, as being a professional athlete. As a result, Soldiers are especially conscious of physical training requirements and the need to remain fit and ready. In recent years, a larger percentage of Soldiers have begun to rely on dietary supplements to help them stay...
 
 

Army Suicide Prevention Month

The Army has extended observance of National Suicide Prevention Week to the entire month of September. The theme for 2014 is “Enhancing Resiliency — Strengthening our Professionals.” Fort Huachuca suicide prevention activities include: Tuesday, Sept. 16, 23 and 30: 9:30 – 10:30 a.m. — Ask, Care, Escort, ACE, Suicide Prevention Training at Murr Community Center....
 
 

Labor Day Safety Message

Labor Day marks the traditional end of the summer season and celebrates the American worker and the contributions they make to our great country. I want to commend you on your efforts to control heat injuries through another hot summer. Your diligence and care for teammates contributed to an overall 20-percent decrease in accident fatalities...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin