If you often grab a sugar-free drink instead of juice because you think it is safer for your teeth, it may be time to rethink your decision.
Scientists in Australia say that sugar-free drinks and sweets are just as bad for teeth as their sugary counterparts. The reason: Chemical composition.
While sugar-free foods won’t lead directly to cavities, the researchers found that many can strip away a tooth’s outer layer of enamel — leading to chalkiness of the tooth’s surface, pitting, opacity, tooth sensitivity and other issues. That’s because they contain acids like phosphoric acid (found in colas) or citric acid (found mainly in lemon and lime flavored drinks).
“…banning sugar-containing beverages from schools may have positive health effects for reducing obesity, diabetes and cavities but it may not reduce the risk of dental erosion,” Eric Reynolds, an oral health professor, and his co-authors wrote in the Australian Dental Journal.
Sugar can destroy teeth when it is fermented by bacteria to produce acid that leads to decay. The condition is extremely common: Here in the United States, about one in four children ages 2 to 5 have cavities, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
When it comes to preventing tooth erosion, milk drinks and water are the wisest choices.