How Sweet Sauces in Asian Food Can Be Damaging to Your Teeth


Sweet and sour sauce, plum or duck sauce, sriracha, hoisin…the list of delectable Asian sauces is endless. They have one thing in common – lots of sugar, which can be quite damaging to the teeth.

The Perfect Dip

For example, Asian sweet and sour sauce is the perfect dip for egg rolls, potstickers, chicken nuggets, sweet and sour chicken, shrimp, or pork, sweet and sour meatballs, grilled chicken and pork, etc. It’s easy to go overboard with it. Then, the sugar stays between your teeth, and the bacteria in your mouth convert it to exopolysaccharide, a tar-like substance which sticks to the enamel. After that, other bacteria consumed with food or drinks will stick on top of this substance.

Sugary foods attract bacteria, which are very dangerous because they can do lots of damage to teeth and gums if preventive measures aren’t taken.

San Francisco Natives Are at Risk

San Francisco not only has a very large Asian population, but many non-Asian locals also find Asian food irresistible. And what’s an Asian dish without an Asian sauce? What’s the difference between making plum sauce at home and ordering it in a restaurant? You need only ask your local dentist in San Francisco – it can mean the difference between damaged and healthy teeth. Homemade plum sauce is a far cry from the sugary, congealed, starchy, sour sauce that comes in squeeze bottles or ketchup-style packets at your local Chinese restaurant.

It’s easy to make it at home. You need plums – any kind will do. If you have none at all, you can use pineapple, peaches, or apricots. Traditional Chinese salted plums that come in jars with brine or dried plums are OK too, but ideally, you’d use fresh plums. And don’t add sugar!

Dangers of Ready-Made Sauces

It’s tempting to take the easy way to enhance food flavor, but it becomes a habit. If you grew up with sweet Asian sauces, you will continue consuming them. Not all of these sauces are harmful to teeth, but problems can be caused by added ingredients. It’s also very easy to get confused by nutrition labels irrespective of the fact that ’50 per cent less fat’ or ‘less sodium’ can seem very appealing.

Honey garlic sauce can be indispensible to dishes with chicken, especially wings. These jars and tubes of flavor have become essential to Asian dishes, but know that they aren’t doing your teeth and gums any favors!

Let’s take Sriracha sauce as an example. It’s low in calories, low in saturated fat, and low in carbohydrates, but it has very high sodium content. It contains a lot of added sugar and salt despite the fact that it is generally lower in sodium than other Asian hot sauces.

Hoisin is widely known as the Chinese version of American barbecue sauce. Like its US counterpart, it’s deliciously salty, sweet, and spicy all at once. It’s also a sugar bomb. Experts recommend oyster sauce as a healthier option. It is also a Chinese staple, but with 50% less sugar.