Did you know that sugar-free products can cause tooth decay?
It may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s true.
Ever since the invention of photography in the late 1800s, the US has become an ever more image-driven culture. Today, mobile devices enable us to snap an image and share it in seconds with friends, family or even the world. Our national obsession with self-image has definitely intensified.
Strangely, at the same time, the obesity rate has skyrocketed. As a result, as of 2020, one out of every three adults – about 36% – is obese.
Supermarkets Are Filled With Sugar-Free Products
It’s well-known that diets high in sugar are bad for your waistline. And, despite what it may seem, millions of people want to lose weight. According to a 2018 study by the CDC, 17% of Americans report being on a diet, and that’s up from 14% just over a decade ago.
Consequently, the food and beverage industry has responded. Supermarket shelves are stacked high with sugar-free products that appeal to dieters, particularly in the soda and candy aisles.
With all the sugar-free products at our fingertips, you might assume that tooth decay is on the decline. Not so. Tooth decay in the US is increasing and is the most common chronic disease in children and adults in the United States.
How Sugar Substitutes Can Cause Tooth Decay – Step-By-Step
So, with the availability of so many sugar-free products, why is tooth decay rising in the US? One reason may be the fact that sugar substitutes can cause tooth decay.
Most sugar-free products contain one or more of these three sugar-substitutes: Sorbitol, Mannitol or Saccharine. When you drink or eat a product containing one of these three sugar-substitutes, your mouth responds the same way as it does when you have a sugary product:
STEP 1: Sugars adhere to your tooth enamel and remain there, especially if you don’t brush your teeth right away.
STEP 2: Bacteria notices the sugars on your teeth and begins to feed on them (I know, gross!)
STEP 3: Bacteria love sugars and begin to multiply very quickly.
STEP 4: As the bacteria feed, the sugars are converted into acidic waste.
STEP 5: The acid begins eating away at your tooth enamel.
STEP 6: Tooth decay!
Are There Any Sugar Substitutes That Not Cause Tooth Decay?
Yes, there is one, and it’s called Xylitol. Xylitol differs from other sugar substitutes such as Sorbitol, Mannitol and Saccharine in that bacteria cannot break it down into acids. This discouragement of bacteria growth dramatically reduces the amount of acid that forms on your tooth enamel.
Here’s why I recommend Xylitol as a sugar substitute for my patients:
- Xylitol can actually strengthen tooth enamel and protect your teeth, and that’s why you often see it in toothpaste and chewing gum.
- Xylitol has been proven to be milder on your stomach. That means no embarrassing dashes to the bathroom.
The Bottom Line
Carefully check the ingredients before buying a sugar-free product because sugar substitutes can cause tooth decay.
Dr. Michael Sinkin has been practicing dentistry for over two decades. He truly cares about the experience his patients have and takes great pride in making them feel relaxed and comfortable during every visit. Come in for an appointment and experience a different kind of dental practice. You may even receive a healthy dose of Dr. Sinkin’s famous comic relief! To find out more about Dr. Sinkin, click here