A common assumption is that using a sugar substitute is healthier for your body and your teeth. For instance, people consume diet sodas with artificial sweeteners and don’t realize that there may be just as much of a risk for tooth decay as there is with traditional soda. So how do you know what sugars are actually better on your teeth?
Most sugar substitutes come from one of 3 main types of sweeteners – mannitol, sorbitol and saccharine. All 3 of these sweeteners still trigger the production of acid in your mouth. This is caused by the sweetener becoming a food source for bacteria in the mouth; when processed by the bacteria it becomes acid, which then destroys tooth enamel. Loss of tooth enamel results in cavities and tooth decay that are treated with dental fillings, crowns, and other dental restorations. Soda drinkers tend to drink diet soda more frequently because they feel it isn’t as “bad,” but in reality, it causes even more acid exposures to their teeth throughout the day. Limiting your exposure to sugar or typical artificial sweeteners is the best way to protect your oral health as well as maintain a balanced diet.
Xylitol is a sugar substitute that does not react the same way as other artificial sweeteners. In fact, it even prevents cavities. The molecular make up of Xylitol actually prevents plaque buildup, repelling it from the tooth structure and thereby reducing the risk of gingivitis and tooth decay. Many chewing gums now use Xylitol as their primary sweetener. Chewing gum with xylitol at least 5 times each day can dramatically reduce your risk of developing dental disease. Xylitol is gentler on the stomach that some other sugar substitutes, but in large quantities may cause some intestinal irritation. So, the next time you’re at the check out at the market, grab some xylitol chewing gum and do your teeth a favor!
Posted on behalf of Lawrenceville Family Dental Care, P.C.
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