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Even sugar-free drinks can cause damage to teeth


Carefully reading labels to make sure your beverage is sugar-free may not be enough. Studies show that certain sugar-free beverages may cause the same amount of damage to teeth as those that contain sugar.

Following a study conducted by researchers at the Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) in Melbourne, Australia, it was found that consumption of most soft drinks caused softening of the outer layer of the tooth, or enamel.

Twenty-three types of sugar-free drinks were tested, including soft drinks and sports drinks. The drinks with acidic additives or low pH levels caused damage to tooth enamel even though they contain no sugar.

Most people know to avoid sugar in beverages as a cause of tooth decay, but not the similar correlation between acid content and tooth decay.

How Tooth Enamel is Damaged

Sugar forms a plaque on the surface of teeth that is then digested by bacteria and converted to acid. This acid attacks teeth and damages the enamel. Therefore, if a drink is acidic, it can erode enamel whether it contains sugar or not.

Although the use of sugar substitutes in beverages has significantly reduced tooth decay in first world countries, the public needs to be aware that acidic beverages that may be sugar-free should be avoided as well.

In the study conducted by the Oral Health CRC, soft drinks that were sugar-free and those that contained sugar caused the same amount of damage to teeth, even flavored mineral water.

The researchers’ recommendations include proper labeling of the drinks as potential contributors to tooth decay. They suggest avoiding acidic additives such as citric acid and phosphoric acid in beverages.

In addition, they recommend rinsing your mouth with water after consuming acidic beverages before brushing your teeth. Immediate brushing could cause further damage by forcefully applying the acid to enamel.

Chewing sugarless gum can also help to neutralize the acid contained in soda or soft drinks.

As always, experts urge you to turn to water when quenching your thirst. And be sure to have regular dental check-ups that will detect the first signs of tooth decay. Tooth damage can be reversed if caught early, or you can at least prevent worse damage through treatment from your dentist.

Source: The Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre


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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.