Awareness of the adverse health effects related to high sugar intake has greatly increased in recent years. As a result, artificial sweeteners have taken the center stage, and while they are indeed a better and healthier alternative to sugar, consumption of these substances should still be done in moderation.
Artificial sweeteners are safe to consume in moderate quantities. Some artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol, can even help prevent tooth decay by encouraging saliva production. Consuming artificial sweeteners in moderation and rinsing your mouth with water after will prevent any issues.
Although artificial sweeteners offer a good alternative to sugar, we’re not in the clear yet. You don’t want to over do it with foods or drinks that contain artificial sweeteners, because they probably contain other potentially harmful compounds. Some are acidic, which allow bacteria a more favorable environment to grow while weakening enamel. Let’s look at some more details about artificial sweeteners and oral health.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Preferable to Sugar?
Traditional sugar reacts with bacteria in your mouth, producing harmful acids. These acids can lead to cavities, erosion of tooth enamel, receding gums, and destruction of the protective tissues in your mouth that keep your teeth in place.
Since artificial sweeteners don’t contain sugar, the aforementioned bacteria won’t find a source to feed on. So artificial sweeteners are not bad for your teeth, at least when consumed in moderation.
Some artificial sweeteners can actually help protect your teeth. As an example, some sugar free gum, like Trident’s Black Raspberry Twist Gum (on Amazon), contains the artificial sweetener xylitol, which helps produce more saliva in your mouth and clean acidic food particles from your tooth’s surface.
With that said, many products that contain artificial sweeteners also contain acids that can be damaging to the enamel. Acids such as citric acid help make the product taste sweeter but can also harm your teeth. Therefore, artificial sweeteners should only be consumed in moderation.
Is Zevia Soda Bad for Your Teeth?
The stevia leaf extract found in drinks like the Zevia Zero Calorie Soda (on Amazon) is a healthier option than sugar, since it doesn’t produce the acids that can eat away at teeth.
But even though the effects of consuming Zevia soda are less harmful than those of traditional sodas, this drink can still be harmful for your teeth.
Zevia soda contains citric and tartaric acids. These acids help produce a sweet and tangy flavor that consumers enjoy, but they can also contribute to the erosion of your tooth enamel.
Which Artificial Sweeteners Are Best for Your Teeth?
As mentioned above, moderate consumption of artificial sweeteners is not bad for your teeth. In fact, artificial sweeteners such as xylitol help clean out food particles in your mouth by encouraging the production of saliva. Therefore, xylitol actually helps reduce tooth decay.
However, the problems arise when artificial sweeteners are consumed along with other compounds and chemicals that often appear in low-sugar drinks. With the addition of citric, phosphoric, or tartaric acids, the combination starts to become unhealthy and damages your tooth’s enamel.
That means that every sip of soda, or every lick of a lolly, will contribute to the erosion of the enamel on your teeth.
The best way to prevent this is to consume artificial sweeteners in moderation and always practice proper oral hygiene.
Can Artificial Sweeteners Help Your Teeth?
While artificial sweeteners may not be as harmful as sugar, which produces harmful acids inside your mouth, artificial sweeteners should not be considered a totally healthy options for your teeth.
It is true that artificial sweeteners such as xylitol can help prevent tooth decay, since they stimulate saliva production and thereby clean out food particles from your mouth. It is however important to understand that artificial sweeteners shouldn’t be a regular part of your oral hygiene.
An abnormal increase in the usage of artificial sweeteners may result in damage to your enamel and headaches. It can also contribute to poor gut health and weight gain.
For this reason, artificial sweeteners should be consumed moderately, even though they are preferable to sugar.
All that said, practicing regular and consistent oral hygiene is key to keeping your teeth clean and healthy. This is especially important about 30 minutes after consuming sweet drinks, lollipops, chewy candies, or toffee, all of which can get stuck in your mouth and continue to produce harmful bacteria over time.