Dr James Goolnik 

Dr James Goolnik

Tooth decay is all down to diet. There is an enzyme called amylase. Everyone has it, and when we chew bread, it breaks it down into sugar (amylase secreted in saliva, help break down starches into simple sugars). Try this at home, put a piece of bread in your mouth and try and chew it for about a minute. You will notice how sweet it becomes. That is the enzymes turning it into sugar. If you have bread three times a day, you are literally dipping your teeth into sugar, three times a day!

Unfortunately, our Western diet now has become more and more processed. When you go to the supermarket, probably more than 80% of products have added sugar in some way, and as dentists, we see more and more tooth decay problems. Sadly, most people don’t even realise that there is sugar added to these things. They think they are being really good, maybe having a savoury sandwich for lunch. But actually, it has got 20 grams of sugar. So, looking at the ingredients is massively important, as is realising when you are having sugar. You might say I am having a chocolate bar because I want a chocolate bar and it’s got lots of sugar in but right now, I want it. But you also have to realise when you are having something savoury, like a sandwich, you have to realise this is sugar too. Personally, I used to think sushi was nice and healthy, but when you realise the white rice is actually full of sugar, then you have got the mirin which is poured all over it, again full of sugar, you start to have to really think about your choices. Even a hamburger, as long as it’s without the bread, would have been healthier.

I am quite lucky as a dentist. I am the first one to see the damage that can happen. If you are having sugar and changing your diet, I can see the damage within just six months. Yet it might take three or four years for obesity, or five or six years for diabetes or heart disease to reveal themselves, but as dentists, we see the damage more quickly. The scary fact is that the number one cause of hospital admissions in the UK for children between the ages of 5 and 9, is tooth decay, and that is horrific. And it’s because of our sugary diet, and yet it’s 100% preventable.

About Dr James Goolnik

James qualified in 1992 from King’s College London. He is a past- president of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the largest organisation dedicated to advancing the art and science of cosmetic dentistry in the United Kingdom. James has twice been voted the most influential person in dentistry in the UK by trade magazine Dentistry. His book Brush is a number one bestseller on Amazon, from which James donates all of his profits to the charity Dentaid. The first project was in Malawi, where James installed a two- surgery dental practice and led a dental team to deliver a skills transfer workshop. His latest charitable project is tackling sugar being used as a reward for children.

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