Eating sugary, sticky food increases your risk of tooth decay. This is because the bacteria in dental plaque feed on the sugar in your mouth to produce acid that attacks tooth enamel. This interactive presentation explains the effects of sugar on your body.

Be aware that food that is high in carbohydrates, like pasta, breaks down to sugar. And watch out for food that can stick to your teeth, like bread. For more information, see Simple tips to make better food choices for your teeth (PDF) .

Sugar can appear in many forms, and with various names. Here’s a list of many of the alternate names for sugar to help you identify it on ingredient statements:

Agave nectar Corn sweetener Galactose Muscovado sugar
Anhydrous dextrose Corn syrup Glucose Palm sugar
Barbados sugar Corn syrup solids Glucose solids Panela sugar
Barley malt Crystalline fructose Golden sugar Panocha
Barley malt syrup D-ribose Golden syrup Powdered sugar
Beet sugar Date sugar Grape sugar Raw sugar
Blackstrap molasses Dehydrated cane juice HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup) Refiner's syrup
Brown rice syrup Demerara sugar Honey Rice syrup
Brown sugar Dextrin Icing sugar Sorghum syrup
Buttered syrup Dextrose Invert sugar Sucanat
Cane juice Diastatic malt Lactose Sucrose
Cane juice crystals Diglycerides Liquid fructose Sugar (granulated)
Cane sugar Ethyl maltol Malt syrup Sweet Sorghum
Caramel Evaporated cane juice Maltodextrin Syrup
Carob syrup Florida crystals Maltol Treacle
Castor sugar Free-flowing brown sugars Maltose Turbinado sugar
Coconut palm sugar Fructose Mannose Yellow sugar
Coconut sugar Fruit juice Maple syrup  
Confectioner's sugar Fruit juice concentrate Molasses  


Soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, alcohol and even fruit juice contain high amounts of sugar and acid that can damage your teeth. Each sip causes an acid attack that lasts 20 minutes, causing damage to your tooth enamel, which can lead to cavities and increased tooth sensitivity. Energy drinks contain high amounts of acid but even sugar-free drinks contain acid, including plain carbonated water.

Get tips to reduce the effects of sugary and acidic drinks on your oral health.

More information