There’s no question that chewing sugary candy and gum wages quite an assault on your teeth. The sugar combines with the bacteria in your mouth and forms acid, providing an ideal environment for cavities to form.
But what about sugar-free foods? Are they good for your teeth?
Remember, Cheetos are low in sugar content but that doesn’t make them a health food! Sugar-free foods can be a preferable alternative to sugary foods, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to eat them with reckless abandon. It’s true that sugar-free products do not promote tooth decay and can actually help prevent cavities. Xylitol, a common ingredient in sugar-free gum, has been found to help fight tooth decay. Some research has shown that Xylitol can inhibit growth of Streptococcus Mutans, the oral bacteria that causes cavities.
But beware! Sugar-free foods can actually cause other dental problems.
Many sugar-free products often contain preservatives and flavors that are highly acidic, thus contributing to erosion of your teeth. Diet soda (just like regular soda) also contains phosphorous and carbonation, which wear away the enamel on your teeth.
So it is true that advertisers can accurately say that sugar-free foods do not cause tooth decay. They could also accurately say sugar-free foods don’t cause blindness or leprosy! It still doesn’t mean sugar-free foods are healthy for your teeth, and they may actually contribute to enamel erosion!
Overall, it’s probably a good idea to swap out sugary gum with a sugar-free alternative. However, don’t assume that “sugar-free” means tooth-friendly! And let’s face it, it’s tough to go wrong with fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of water, and brushing your teeth after every meal and snack!