It’s common knowledge that sugar is bad for your smile. It interacts with the bacteria in your mouth to produce acid, which eats away at tooth enamel and leads to cavities. Sugar can also increase your risk of developing obesity. If you’ve decided to cut back on added sugars, or eliminate them entirely from your diet, you deserve a pat on the back! However, if you’re using sugar-free alternatives to satisfy your craving for sweets, you might still be putting your pearly whites in harm’s way. Why are sugar-free foods not as smile-friendly as many people think?
Sugar-Free Drinks and Tooth Damage
Even beverages that don’t contain a single gram of sugar can still be chock-full of acid. Consider diet soda as an example. The carbonation process automatically lowers the pH of the beverage. Plus, many soda manufacturers use citric acid or phosphoric acid to add a bit of tangy zest to their drinks. The result is a fizzy, refreshing item that attacks your tooth enamel.
Soda isn’t the only culprit, though. Even non-carbonated sugar-free beverages, like sports drinks and flat flavored waters, may have acids that can damage your smile and lead to painful tooth decay.
Sugar-Free Foods and Tooth Damage
What if you’re in the mood for something sweet to chew on or suck on? Unfortunately, many sugar-free candies present the same problems as sugar-free drinks. Researchers tested dozens of sugar-free candies and snacks and found that many of them presented dangers to tooth enamel. Fruit-flavored treats are more harmful than things like chocolates and mints because manufacturers often use citric acid to produce fruity deliciousness.
Be aware that even some foods that are advertised to be good for your teeth because they don’t have sugar can still damage your smile.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Ultimately, one of the best things you can do for your teeth is to avoid sweets altogether — whether or not those sweets contain any sugar. However, because we’re all human, we might need a treat once in a while. Try water with fruit in it for a refreshing beverage. When it’s time for a sweet snack, choose an apple or some calcium-rich yogurt (with a low sugar content, of course). Of course, if you feel the need for something that isn’t good for you at all, partake in moderation and brush your teeth about an hour after you indulge.
It’s also vital that you visit your dentist at least twice a year. A dental professional can thoroughly clean your teeth and help to prevent decay. Moreover, if your pearly whites have already been damaged by sugar-free treats or anything else, your dentist can correct the problem. Restorative dentistry can give your smile’s luster and strength back to it.
Sugar-free foods might help you fit into your favorite jeans, but they could also damage your teeth. Make balanced decisions about what you consume, and your smile — as well as the rest of your body — will thank you.
About Our Practice
The team of dentists at Drs. Scannell & Hollinger, Inc. is proud to provide general and restorative dentistry services to folks in the Longmeadow area. If your mouth is in pain, or you just have questions about how to protect your smile, please contact us at 413-525-6821.