The Impact of Sugar-Free Drinks

It seems that we are getting more and more information that too much sugar can be incredibly harmful to our bodies, both generally and in regards to our dental health. While cutting down on added sugar is a fantastic idea, the first response that many people have is to switch to sugar-free sweeteners to maintain the flavor that they’ve become accustomed to. It turns out that this plan doesn’t always work that well.

Sugar is harmful to teeth because it gives bacteria the building blocks for making acid, which degrade your enamel and cause cavities, plaque, and perhaps even periodontal disease, over time.

The bottom line is that many of these drinks themselves, even if they have a little sugar, can still contain significant amounts of acid, such as phosphoric acid, citric acid, or tartaric acid. “Matthew M. Rodgers, DDS; and J. Anthony von Fraunhofer, Ph.D., FADM, FRSC, researchers at the University of Michigan, compared the eroding effects of regular sodas and diet sodas on teeth and found very little difference. For example, after 14 days of exposure to regular Coca-Cola, 2.8 mg/cm² of tooth enamel had dissolved, and diet Coca-Cola dissolved a little over 3 mg/cm² of tooth enamel in the same amount of time.”

The Solution

The best solution is to drink beverages that are not highly acidic or drinks that neutralize the mouth’s pH, such as milk. Alternatively, “Matthew M. Rodgers and J. Anthony von Fraunhofer found that tap water and root beer had the least effect on teeth, followed by black tea and coffee. All of these beverages dissolved less that 0.4 mg/cm² of tooth enamel 14 days after exposure.”

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Patient's Dental Dictionary | 6th Ave Periodontics