Question: I’ve heard alternative sweeteners can be better for your health than regular sugar, but will they still damage my teeth?
Regular sugars (pure cane sugar) cause tooth decay by forming into a sticky film that coats your teeth. When combined with bacteria in your mouth, the sugar film breaks down into an acid, which eats away at your enamel over time — especially if you’re not brushing regularly.
You’d think that alternative sweeteners would do the same thing, right? Actually, that’s wrong.
Most alternative sweeteners don’t break down into acid when combined with bacteria, so they won’t cause enamel erosion like cane sugar does. In fact, some sweeteners such as Xylitol have actually been shown to destroy bacteria in the mouth and prevent cavities. Because many alternative sweeteners also have no calories, they’re often used to make low-calorie foods and to sweeten foods labeled “sugar-free”. So, they’re a good option to consider if your teeth are particularly prone to decay.
However, just because these sweeteners won’t hurt your teeth and contain fewer calories doesn’t mean you can consume them constantly. Remember that a balanced diet is a part of good overall health — and good dental health — so make sure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need every day. Combine that with a good oral hygiene regimen, and your smile will be bright for a lifetime.