The Dentist Magazine.

Are you letting sugar crêpe up on you?

Published: 28/02/2017

Shrove Tuesday might often be an excuse to eat a big pile of pancakes, but do we consider what effect this having on our oral health?

We all know eating sugar too often causes tooth decay, but being aware of how much sugar we are having with our pancakes can help to avoid an unwelcome trip to the dentist.

Figures from YouGov show that on average each Brit will put away two or more pancakes today, with people in Scotland preferring to pile them higher than anywhere else in the UK, opting to have four or more.

While pancakes themselves are relatively tooth-friendly, less can be said for the toppings we so often turn to. So, what will you be having with your pancakes today? To help make your mind up the Oral Health Foundation have looked at the UK's favourite pancake toppings and the effect that, having them too often can have on your oral health.

Lemon and sugar

Heading the pancake leader board is lemon and sugar, with a whopping 63 per cent of Brits putting it amongst our three favourite toppings. Lemon and sugar represents the best of both worlds being both sweet and sour and it remains the king of Pancake Day. Unfortunately, it is also one of the worse choices for our teeth. The high acidity of the lemon together with the sugar forms a two-pronged attack on our teeth through dental erosion and decay. Chewing sugar-free chewing gum after your pancake is a great way to protect your teeth while ensuring you enjoy your pancake day.

Maple syrup

The surprising second favourite pancake topping, with more than one in five (22 per cent) of us saying we will be likely to indulge in this old Canadian staple today, is Maple Syrup. We Brits have taken maple syrup to our hearts, although reports of whether this is together with bacon remain unsubstantiated. But, be aware, maple syrup is more than two thirds sugar and sticks to our teeth long after eating it; a prolonged sugar attack on our teeth can really be bad news. Why not have a glass of water or milk on-hand to help rinse the stickiness off your teeth.

Golden syrup

An oldie but a goodie which we appear to be sticking to (sometimes literally) is golden syrup, with 14 per cent of us likely to reach for the famous green tin on Pancake Day. But, as golden syrup is pure sugar and very, very, very sticky, it sticks to our teeth and means a prolonged sugar hit for our teeth. Make sure you wait an hour after eating your pancake before brushing your teeth or you may be causing more harm than good.


Rapidly climbing the ranks as a pancake go-to is this nutty cholate spread, with 12 per cent of us putting it in our three favourite toppings. But are you aware of how much sugar is in it? Shockingly, more than a half of a jar of Nutella is pure sugar (56 per cent). Many people hold firm that it is a ‘healthy' option due to its dairy content but, with such dangerously high levels of sugar, it is bad news for your teeth.


While 85 per cent of us prefer indulging in a sweet pancake, it appears some of us are sweet enough already. Cheese, ham, spinach and mushroom are the favourites for those who prefer something a bit more savoury – a fine choice for your oral health and your waistline too.

After Pancake Day we enter lent, where many people choose to give up something until Easter. This year, why not consider giving up sugar (or at least consider cutting down). One in five of us say we are planning on giving up chocolate, sweets, fizzy drinks and sugar this time around. The effect this can have on our oral health can be hugely significant... but be warned, this is not an excuse to eat a dozen chocolate eggs come Easter Sunday.