Have you been choosing sugar-free snacks and diet sodas over “regular” treats, thinking they are better for your teeth? While cutting back on sugar is a good idea for your overall health, unfortunately, those sugar-free snacks are not any better for your teeth than the full-sugar options.
According to research, artificial sweeteners are not as safe for the teeth as people tend to think they are. The research actually found that these sugar-free options actually wreak havoc on your teeth. The studies actually suggest that while sugar substitutes lessen the risk of tooth decay overall, sugar-free products are still very harmful to the teeth because of their high levels of acid. The acid actually strips away the surface layers of tooth enamel and it can soften the dentin or pulp of the teeth.
The research showed a distinct link between dental erosion and the use of sugar substitutes that contained acidic additives sorbitol and xylitol. The findings showed that the longer these acids stay on your teeth, the greater the risk of decay. Hard, sugar-free candies are a major offender.
When it came to beverages, diet drinks were the worst offenders. All soft drinks tested produced significant erosion of dental enamel. Tests on sports drinks showed similar results.
Although these sugar-free drinks usually don’t contain sugar, diet sodas have been shown to cause about the same amount of dental erosion as regular sodas with sugar.
Sugar-free candies were found to be loaded with citric acid and other food acids which are, of course, terrible for the teeth as stated above.
In order to minimize your chances of tooth decay, researchers recommend drinking water over sodas or juices, and drinking fluoridated tap water instead of bottled water, which doesn’t contain fluoride.
They also suggest drinking milk, as it is not an erosive beverage. Black tea and coffee (while they do stain teeth when consumed regularly) were found to be safe when it comes to causing decay and wear.
Chewing sugar-free gum after meals is a great idea, too, because it helps stimulate saliva which can get rid of the acids in the mouth and even help to re-harden softened enamel.
Researchers note that brushing your teeth right after you consume sugar-free snacks is a bad idea. Brushing then can remove your softened tooth layer, making things worse. Instead, drink water or rinse your mouth after eating those snacks, and wait an hour to brush.
At Gables Sedation & Family Dentistry, we know it is important to make sure you see your dentist twice a year to ensure your teeth are healthy. Please contact us if you have any questions about your dental health or about the dangers to teeth caused by consuming sugar-free products.