Sugar-free drinks and healthy teeth don’t go together despite popular belief that once the sugar is removed from drinks or foods tooth health thrives.
To help drive the point home, the research team with the Oral Health Cooperative Research Center of the University of Melbourne, Australia analyzed how 23 different types of sugar-free drinks affect tooth health.
The sugar-free drinks included popular sports drinks or soft drinks consumed by people worldwide. And while they may be a good way to start reducing sugar consumption, the low pH levels in addition to acidic additives they contain are seriously damaging tooth health.
Popular belief maintains that sugar in drinks and sweets hurt one’s teeth. Which is a correct and proven fact. However, tooth decay is linked to sugar-free drinks as much as it is to sugary drinks according to the recently published study.
The common denominator for tooth decay is acid. While sugar triggers the formation of plaque on the surface of our teeth, leading to formation of acid as soon as the sugar is digested by bacteria, sugar-free drinks have elevated acidic levels leading to the same results. Acidic additives in sugar-free drinks attack tooth enamel and lead to the erosion of teeth affecting tooth health overall.
Eric Reynolds, one of the researchers on the study and professor at the Melbourne Dental School, as well as CEO of the Oral Health Cooperative Research Center explained that while many people are aware that curbing sugar intake reduces the risk of tooth decay, not as many are aware of the fact the acidic additives in some drinks and foods affect tooth health in the same way as sugar, leading to dental erosion.
Acid attacks tooth enamel and as the outer layers of the teeth decay, the soft pulp becomes exposed. Thus, according to the researchers sugar-free drinks and healthy teeth don’t go together.
As sugar was slowly replaced with mannitol or sorbitol or xylitol, tooth health with children was improved. However, more efforts to raise awareness of the damaging effects of sugar-free drinks and products are needed if healthy teeth are a priority. One of the findings of the study pinpoints that the acidic additives in sugar-free drinks reduce the strength of tooth enamel by one third to one half.
Soft drinks led to loss of tooth enamel with sports drinks caused the same. The research team hopes that their findings will spark a wider effort to label sugar-free drinks with accurate information related to tooth health.
Photo Credits: PIxabay
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