With the growing importance of eliminating obesity in America, many scientists and researchers have said that sugar-free foods and drinks are a healthy substitute for foods that are loaded with pure sugar. Although eating sugar-free foods may help prevent weight loss in some aspects, the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages, including how sugar-free foods can cause extreme tooth decay. Find out why sugar-free foods
Sugar Substitutes & Effects
Scientists studying the effects of sugar-free foods have uncovered what they refer to as a “hidden risk” with this diet — namely sugar substitutes. Although majority of consumers automatically assume that “sugar-free” is a good thing, researchers and authors have set out to make consumers aware of the types of sugar alcohols that are used in sugar-free foods, and how they are harmful to tooth enamel. While sugar alcohols do lessen the risk of getting cavities, two main ingredients in the alcohols increase the risk of tooth decay.
Xylitol & Sorbitol
Xylitol and sorbitol are naturally-occurring sugar substitutes that are mainly used in sugar-free foods because they have a third of the calories that sugar does. Although xylitol and sorbitol are helpful in reducing cavities, they increase the acidity level in the mouth, which as mentioned above, is bad for tooth enamel.
A literature review by academics from the universities of Boston, Helsinki, and Southern Nevada states ,“As the use of sorbitol and xylitol containing products increases, the public should be educated on the hidden risk of dental erosion due to acidic additives, as well as the adverse effects of gastric disturbance and osmotic diarrhea. Especially in sugar-free products, these adverse effects may be more insidious because the public has blind confidence that they are oral health-friendly."
Sugar-free drinks are just as harmful as sugar-free foods. Recent studies have uncovered the many harmful effects of diet sodas, linking them to health problems such as migraines, diabetes and cardiovascular issues. However, diet soda is also linked to tooth decay.
Researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a study on the effects of diet soda and regular soda on tooth decay and found very little difference. In the 14 days that the study was conducted, there was only a .2mg/cm2 difference in erosion levels. In order to maintain healthy dental hygiene, you really should avoid soda all together.
A Healthy Diet Maintains Teeth
The best way to maintain healthy teeth is to simply have a healthy diet (we know, easier said than done). In fact, some scientists have found that native tribes who were eating their traditional diet had nearly perfect teeth and no tooth decay, despite not having toothbrushes, floss or toothpaste.
Avoiding foods and drinks that have high acidity levels and only eating sugar in small doses will result in the best overall dental hygiene. Interested in maintaining healthy teeth? Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment today.