Sugar is bad news for your waistline and overall wellness. As Americans work to decrease their sugar intake, the demand for substitutes has increased. Stevia, xylitol, and other artificial sweeteners don’t have the same high-calorie content as regular sugar. As a result, they can help you maintain a healthy weight and improve your health. However, are they good for your teeth? Here’s how artificial sweeteners can affect your pearly whites.
Sugar Increases Your Risk of Decay
Your enamel is the hardest substance in your body, which protects the underlying dentin and pulp. It is stronger than some metals, but bacteria can break it down over time. Sugar feeds cavity-causing bacteria that can erode your enamel until a cavity develops. Enamel can’t regenerate, so decay won’t go away with no treatment.
Harmful oral bacteria thrive on the sugary residue left behind by the foods and drinks you consume. Dental professionals recommend moderating sugars and starches to keep your enamel strong and healthy.
Artificial Sweeteners and Tooth Decay
If you’ve made the switch to artificial sweeteners, there’s good news for your smile. Sugar substitutes are not fermentable, so bacteria can’t use them as food. Therefore, they don’t contribute to tooth decay.
Although sugar substitutes won’t harm your teeth, drinking soda doesn’t become any safer for your smile. Diet soda is still acidic, which can lead to enamel loss. Fruit juices with sugar alternatives aren’t any better. They contain natural sugars and can be acidic, like orange juice.
Water is always the best choice for your mouth and body. You’ll stay hydrated to keep your mouth moist and clean.
Protect Against Tooth Decay
Besides cutting regular sugar from your diet, you can protect your teeth from decay by committing to:
- Brushing Your Teeth: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to clean your teeth at least twice daily, if not after every meal. Brush for 2 minutes to remove food residue and plaque.
- Floss Every Night: Your toothbrush can reach everywhere in your mouth, like between teeth. Floss your teeth every day to remove the buildup your toothbrush can’t reach.
- Visit Your Dentist: Visit your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and checkup. They’ll keep your teeth and gums healthy by preventing common issues, like cavities.
- Drink from the Tap: Fluoride is known as “nature’s cavity fighter” because it strengthens enamel. Fluoride has been added to public water systems for decades to reduce tooth decay. Choose water from the tap instead of a bottle.
With your oral and general health closely linked, watching what you eat is important for your mouth and body. A healthy smile will improve your overall wellness to feel your best.
About Dr. Scott Parker
Dr. Parker earned his dental degree from Loma Linda University and has regularly pursued advanced training in various specialties, like cosmetic dentistry. He offers up-to-date solutions to support optimal dental health. Request an appointment through his website or call (909) 500-4135.