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Are Sugar Substitutes Better for Your Oral Health than Sugar?

Spoonful of sugar

Since you were very young, you have been told that having too many sugary treats would result in painful cavities and the need for fillings. A large percentage of people have experienced tooth decay as a result of consuming sugar, and we all know that it certainly isn’t fun. However, what about those sugar substitutes that you see everywhere? Could switching out a regular cola for diet mean protecting your teeth? Continue reading to find out.

How Does Sugar Affect Your Teeth?

You already know that sugar is harmful for your smile, but do you know why? The mouth contains lots of bacteria, some of them being good and others being harmful. When you consume sugary sweets, the bacteria in your mouth enjoy and digest them too. As a result, they release acid as a by-product. This acid is actually what is so harmful for your teeth, not the sugar itself.

Sticky foods, like fruit snacks and raisins, adhere to the teeth and cause more damage than sugary foods that just melt away, like chocolate. Something that may come as a surprise to you is that starchy foods, like breads, crackers, and chips turn to sugar in the mouth. In the end, they aren’t any better for your teeth than your favorite candy. Ultimately, it is a good idea for you to limit the amount of sugar you’re consuming so you can prevent tooth decay and other oral health issues in the future.

How Do Sugar Substitutes Affect Your Smile?

Sugar substitutes are often times advertised to be healthier for your body since they don’t have as many calories, but they may not be everything that they’re cut out to be. They aren’t completely safe for your teeth, but they don’t tend to produce the same acid that sugar does when combined with bacteria in the mouth. Because of this, artificial sweeteners, like sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame, don’t carry nearly as many dental risks as plain sugar.

Should You Pick Sugar Substitutes Instead?

The sugar substitute that dentists recommend the most is called xylitol. This is more commonly found in sugar-free gum and has been shown to boost dental health and even prevent tooth decay from occurring. It might even reduce the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth that lead to cavities and gum disease.

Artificial sweeteners may not be as harmful for your smile, but it is still important to only consume it in moderation. With a balanced diet and limited sugar intake, you can prevent oral health issues and keep your smile healthy!

About the Author

Dr. Greg Ritchie is an experienced dentist who has been practicing for more than 18 years. He earned his dental doctorate from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and has also completed a post-doctorate neuromuscular training at the world-renowned Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies. Currently, is a proud member of both the American Dental Association and Texas Dental Association. To learn more about keeping your smile healthy or to schedule an appointment at his office in Marble Falls, visit his website or call (830) 693-8833.


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