Are sugar-free drinks better for your teeth?

Friday, October 4, 2019

We’ve all heard about the damage that soda and high sugar drinks can cause to your enamel and your long term oral health – but what about sugar-free options? Is it purely the sugar within the drinks that cause the problem, or are sugar-free sweeteners also damaging to teeth?


We’ve answered some of these common questions below.


Sugar-free drinks are high in acids
One of the most common ingredients in diet soda, or natural fruit juices with no added sugar is acids including citric acid, phosphoric acid and tartaric acid. Unfortunately this means that sugar-free drinks will often cause the same level of dental erosion as their full sugar counterparts.


Dental erosion happens when the hard tissues on the teeth are broken down and dissolved by acid. If this condition progresses, it can cause exposed soft pulp on the teeth. This can lead to sensitive teeth, that are more likely to chip or break, and may require dental procedures like a crown or filling.


A study conducted by the University of Michigan showed that exposure to regular Coca cola over 14 days caused 2.8mg of tooth enamel to dissolve. Exposure of diet Coca cola over the same time period caused 3mg of tooth enamel to dissolve.

Unfortunately the citric acid within orange, lemon and lime juice has highly corrosive effects on the teeth, and can also quickly lead to dental erosion.

How to prevent dental erosion
The easiest way to prevent dental erosion is to stay away from drinks that are high in sugars and acids. Understandably, this can be a difficult task considering most pre-packaged drink options do read high in these areas.
If you are consuming drinks high in sugar and acids, try to rinse your mouth out with water after consumption. Don’t brush straight away, as this can spread the acids within the mouth and further damage your enamel. Wait an hour after consumption then brush your teeth.

And most importantly, make sure to keep up with your bi-yearly dental check-ups so that your Dentist can regularly check in on your oral health, making sure there is no dental erosion forming.

The best drinks to protect your teeth
The best drinks to avoid any dental erosion, and to benefit your overall health is plain water.

Studies have shown that tap water and root beer have the least damaging effects on your teeth. Following this, black tea and black coffee came next on the list of drinks least likely to cause dental erosion.

Another healthy option for your teeth and your body is a glass of milk. Milk can balance the pH levels of the saliva in your mouth. Milk is also a great source of calcium, which keeps your bones and teeth healthy and strong.

So if you’re looking for drinks that keep your teeth healthy, try avoiding high acid and high sugars, and keep to the natural options of water and milk.

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