I have discussed in the past how sugar free drinks are better for your teeth compared to those filled with sugar, but now there is new information that explains that not all sugar free drinks are created equal and some can actually damage your teeth the same way sugar does.
Researchers at the Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre (Oral Health CRC) based at the University of Melbourne, Australia tested 23 different types of sugar free drinks, (including soft drinks and sports drinks) and found that those that contained acidic additives and those with low pH levels cause damage to tooth enamel.
When ingesting a sugar filled drink, the sugar forms a plaque on the tooth surface that bacteria digest and turn into acid. The acid then attacks the teeth and starts dissolving the enamel. It can progress to where it actually can expose the soft pulp inside the tooth. So, drinks that are acidic can also erode teeth.
Most oral health experts agree that use of sugar substitutes such as xylitol and sorbitol can help reduce tooth decay in children. However, Prof. Reynolds of the Melbourne Dental School notes that consumers need to be aware that many sugar free products remain harmful to teeth due to their chemical composition. Six of the eight sports drinks that were tested in the studies caused a loss of dental enamel. The two that did not cause any problems had a higher calcium content.
The Oral Health CRC is recommending that sugar free products – candy or sports drinks – in addition to soft drinks need to carry labels with this information in order to help the consumer decide what works best for their oral health.
If the labels say that the drink contains acidic additives such as citric acid or phosphoric acid, the following steps are recommended:
1. Do not brush your teeth immediately after ingesting. Rinse your mouth out with water and wait about an hour before your brush.
2. Chew sugarless gum after drinking can help increase saliva flow and neutralize the acid.
The Academy of General Dentistry explains that because saliva helps neutralize acids, the worst time to drink soda is when you are thirsty, due to low levels of saliva. I as well as other experts in the field recommend that you drink water to quench your thirst.
Are you interested in these topics? Did you miss my seminar last week? Just call and ask to talk to me. Better yet, call and schedule a preventative exam and we can talk about whatever you would like. I look forward to hearing from you at 440.951.7856.