Nutrition | Oral Care
February 16, 2016

Why sugar-free candy and soda aren’t always the healthier choices

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Sugar-free drinks can still cause damage. Read tips on how to prevent tooth erosion.

 

 

In honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month, let’s talk about sugar-free candy and soda. While they may seem like the healthier alternatives when your children ask for a Coke, MoonPie, or other sugar-laden foods and drinks, research shows that sugar-free items can still cause damage to tooth enamel.

Researchers tested 23 types of soda and sports drinks and found “drinks that contain acidic additives and with low pH levels cause measurable damage to dental enamel, even if the drink is sugar-free.”

Effect of sugar-free drinks on tooth enamel

  • The majority of soft drinks and sports drinks caused softening of dental enamel by 30 to 50 percent.
  • Both sugar-containing and sugar-free soft drinks (including flavored mineral waters) produced measurable loss of the tooth surface, with no significant difference between the two groups of drinks.
  • Of eight sports drinks tested, all but two (those with higher calcium content) were found to cause loss of dental enamel.

It’s important to remember “sugar-free” does not necessarily mean healthy or safe for teeth. Check ingredients for acidic additives such as citric acid and phosphoric acid.

How to prevent tooth erosion

To help prevent tooth erosion, the Academy of General Dentistry and American Dental Association advise the following tips:

  • Drink fewer carbonated beverages and sports and energy drinks, and less pure fruit juice.
  • Drink acidic drinks with a straw, quickly. This helps prevent acid from coming in contact with your teeth.
  • After drinking, rinse your mouth with water to neutralize the acids. Wait at least one hour before brushing your teeth.
  • Brush with a soft toothbrush, using fluoride toothpaste.
  • Don’t give your child juice or acidic drinks in a sippy cup or bottle.

 

Wish you could reduce or eliminate sugar consumption? Check out our tips for curbing your sugar intake and cravings.

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