How much sugar are you hiding in your trolley?

Westmead Dental Health week telehealth services. Dr Ilana Fisher (Clinical Analyst Oral Health)

We’ve all felt the stress of busy work lives and extracurricular activities, which can sometimes lead to oral health falling by the wayside.

But busy days don’t have to mean poor dietary choices.

This Dental Health Week (August 3-9), the Australian Dental Association (ADA) NSW is asking us all to take a closer look at our supermarket purchases – and ask ourselves ‘How much sugar is hiding in your trolley?’

Westmead Hospital dental officer Dr Michelle McNab believes limiting sugar intake while maintaining good oral hygiene is the best combination to keep your teeth healthier for longer.

The average Australian consumes around 14 teaspoons of sugar per day. We want to aim for no more than 6 teaspoons (24 grams) a day for adults and children.

 “The mouth is the gateway to the body,” Dr McNab said.

“Maintaining a healthy mouth means you can eat well and maintain proper nutrition, smile, and speak without pain and embarrassment.

“Many oral conditions are so preventable. By making small changes to our diet, lifestyle, and oral hygiene habits, we can improve our oral health and lower the risk.”

Eliminating sugar from your diet is hard, but there are some small changes you can make to maintain dental hygiene.

“Tap water will always be the best choice for your teeth. But if you struggle to choose water as your drink, start by choosing lower sugar or sugar-free options,” Dr McNab said.

“To add flavour to water, you could try adding some fruit, cucumber, or mint. While there is still some acidity and sugar found in fruit-infused water, it is far less than you would find in store-bought soft drinks, energy drinks, cordials, or fruit juice.”

Look at the nutrition labels on your food and drinks and aim for products with less than 10 grams of sugar per 100 grams. If there’s more than 15 grams of sugar per 100 grams then see if there is a healthier alternative.

“Chewing sugar-free gum after a snack or meal can also stimulate saliva, which can help to neutralise the acid in your mouth,” Dr McNab said.

Beyond limiting sugar consumption, Dr McNab has some tips for maintaining good dental hygiene:

  • Brushing – Brush twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing – Floss (or use an interdental brush) once a day to remove plaque from between your teeth.
  • Say ‘Hello!’ to your dentist – Aim to visit your dentist every 6-12 months to keep on top of your dental health
Westmead Dental Health week telehealth services. Dr Justin Liu (Dental Officer)

The Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) Oral Health Team is currently offering remote ‘teledentistry’ appointments.

This allows patients to be provided with treatment options over the phone, including organising a prescription for antibiotics or pain relief sent straight to your local pharmacy. 

“Teledentrisry was set up as a way to continue to provide dental care and treatment, despite the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr McNab said.

“If you are suspected of having or have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and have a dental problem, you must call your dentist first to talk about your options.”

For more information on public dental services, visit