Are sugar free beverages good for you?

Everyone is trying to cut down their daily sugar intake. One way of doing that is by choosing sugar free beverages. But are sugar free beverages a healthy option for your teeth? The answer is NO, they are not, as the citric acid in the sugar free drinks causes damage by causing erosion of enamel. Erosion is a condition where enamel breaks down from the surface of the teeth because of the acids in your diet or from your stomach.

 It has been documented that acidic foods and beverages may wear away at tooth enamel resulting in tooth erosion (loss of enamel due to acid). This erosion is permanent and can lead to the development of caries or tooth decay. Australian Dental Association’s Australia’s Oral Health Tracker shows that 32.1% of people aged 15 and above have untreated tooth decay. Untreated tooth decay is the most common chronic disease in childhood.

In a year, an average exposure of tooth enamel to these kind of drinks for an individual is roughly about 24 hrs. Recent research shows that when removed human teeth were placed for 24 hours in different sugar free beverages, the tooth showed signs of erosion. The worst damage was noted with sugary soft drinks and their sugar free counterparts. It has been noted in research that flavoured sparkling water may also do similar damage, though not to the same extent. Hence it is safe to say that the more acidic the drink is the higher the chances of tooth erosion, specially with frequent consumption.

With above mentioned, you must be wondering what can I drink then?

It is recommended to drink fluoridated tap water. However, realistically we know that it is difficult to avoid these sugar or sugar free drinks completely. Therefore, what can you do to avoid or control the damage and protect your teeth?

We recommend

  • Drinking fluoridated tap water. Milk is a very good alternative as it does not cause erosion. Avoid flavoured mineral water/sugary drinks/sugar free drinks/sports drinks or at least cut down on them.
  • Brushing twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste
  • Flossing every day to clean in between the teeth.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet that is low in added sugar and cut down on sugar or sugar free drinks. Check the ingredients and look out for the acidic ingredients like citric acid (ingredient number 330) and phosphoric acid (ingredient number 338).
  • Do not brush your teeth straight after eating sugary drinks or sugar free drinks as you can damage the enamel. Rinse your mouth with water or eat a small piece of cheese after drinking a sugar or sugar free drink as alkalinity of cheese helps to balance out the acid attack on enamel. Please ensure that you are not allergic to dairy products.
  • Visit the dentist regularly.
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