It is a widely known fact that sugar is harmful to your overall health and well-being. It is infamous for its detrimental effects on teeth and oral health. It leads to plaque buildup, enamel damage, cavities, tooth decay, and gum diseases. Considering this impact on oral health, many people feel artificial sweeteners are a healthy option and replace their regular sugar with it. But are artificial sweeteners really healthy for your teeth?
How Does Sugar Affect Your Teeth?
Before knowing why people replace their regular sugar with artificial sweeteners, it is important to know what makes them do so. As mentioned before, sugar is the main culprit behind several dental problems, from enamel damage to gum disease. However, sugar does not itself cause tooth damage, it feeds the bad bacteria in the mouth.
When these bacteria consume sugar, it releases acid as a waste product. This acid attacks the tooth enamel, the protective coating of your teeth. This leads to issues like tooth sensitivity, toothache, and tooth decay in many cases. These bacteria continue to produce acid for some time after you stop consuming sugar. Considering the nature of sugar, many people avoid and replace it with other products.
Difference Between Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial Sweeteners are non-nutritive and much sweeter than sugar. This means they add sweetness without adding any calories. There are many options available when it comes to artificial sweeteners. These are aspartame, saccharine, sucralose, stevia, acesulfame K, and xylitol. Due to their high sweetness, it is advisable to have them in less quantity.
What are the Effects of Artificial Sweeteners on Teeth?
Since artificial sweeteners are technically “sugar-free”, they do not feed mouth bacteria. Thus, in this sense, they do not lead to cavities and tooth decay.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology, “The use of substitutes for sugar in sweets is believed to have contributed in part to the decline in the prevalence of dental caries in industrial countries.” The study stated that the anti-calorigenic effects of artificial sweeteners include decreased bacterial growth in the saliva, increased mouth pH, and increased enamel remineralisation while preventing enamel demineralisation.
These are some positive effects of artificial sweeteners on teeth. But this does not mean that you should replace your regular sugar with artificial sweeteners as this may cause you more harm than good. Many food products contain artificial sweeteners and also contain a high amount of acid. For example, diet soda. Diet soda will not fetch you any health benefits but will also lead to the demineralisation of your tooth enamel by the acid, leading to tooth decay.
Overall, artificial sweeteners are not bad for your teeth as they do not invite tooth-damaging bacteria to feed on them. However, they do not contain any nutritional value either. Also, you cannot put them in everything you eat, as they might cause you harm. You should use them with these factors in mind. In case you have doubts, remember to consult your dentist.
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