Pancake Day is on the horizon, and millions of Brits will be looking forward to honing their flipping skills and indulging in a sweet treat. While Shrove Tuesday is a highlight in the calendar for many, it can spell serious trouble for our teeth. The average person consumes at least two pancakes on Pancake Day, meaning that in the UK alone, we get through more than 120 million pancakes (source). With most people opting for sugar-laden toppings, read our top tips below to reduce the risk of tooth decay and cavities. In this guide, we’ll explore the most popular pancake toppings, explain how they impact dental health and offer some healthier alternatives.
The most popular pancake toppings revealedAccording to a 2022 UK survey (source), the nation’s favourite pancake toppings are:
- Lemon and sugar: lemon and sugar takes the crown for the UK’s favourite pancake topping. Combining sweet and sour, this classic combination is the top choice for 34% of Brits. Delicious as sugar and lemon are, oral health wise, the double act of high sugar content along with the acidity of lemon increases the risk of decay and acid erosion.
- Maple syrup: an import from across the pond, maple syrup has become increasingly popular in recent years. Chosen by 14% of Brits, maple syrup is often teamed with crispy bacon or berries and yoghurt. The bad news for maple syrup aficionados is the sugar content of this golden nectar, which is over 65%.
- Strawberries and cream: hot on the heels of maple syrup is strawberries and cream. Synonymous with summer, this delicious duo is the number-one choice for 12% of Brits. While cream might not be the best option in terms of nutrition, it is a healthier choice for the teeth due to its high pH value. Strawberries are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants and they are also a good source of fibre.
- Chocolate spread: Chocolate spread is the winner for 12% of Brits. Rich, dark and gooey, it is an increasingly popular option for Pancake Day. Whilst most spreads contain a small amount of calcium, it is also packed with sugar accounting for more than half a jar in most cases.
What are the effects of our favourite toppings and how can we protect our teeth?Sugar, lemon, Nutella and maple syrup spell bad news for your teeth and gums. A sugary diet elevates the risk of decay by triggering the release of acids when bacteria feed in your mouth. These acids attack the protective enamel and irritate the gums. Acidic toppings, such as lemon juice, increase the risk of acid erosion, putting you at risk of sensitivity, decay and tooth wear. To protect your teeth on Pancake Day, here are some top tips:
- Try to limit your intake of sugary and acidic foods
- Opt for healthier toppings, including fresh berries, bananas, natural yoghurt, nuts, peanut butter and baked apples. Savoury pancake toppings, such as cheese, peppers, tomatoes, lean meat and mushrooms, are also better for your teeth.
- Avoid snacking and grazing on pancakes between meals
- Wait 45-60 minutes after eating to brush your teeth
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating and chew sugar-free gum