Sugar free doesn’t mean cavity free

the effect of softdrinks

Many people believe by swapping to the “sugar-free” alternative of their favourite foods and drinks, they are also opting for the “healthier” option. Did you know “sugar-free” drinks are just as bad for your teeth as their sugary counterparts?

Have you ever considered how confectionary, food and drink makers are able to create “sugar-free” items that still taste just as good as the traditional sugary option? Wonder no longer. By packing these foods and drinks with higher levels of phosphoric and citric acids, they are able to avoid using sugar – however acids are just as bad, if not worse for your teeth.

Sports drinks and tooth erosion

Don’t think you are safe from these enamel-eroding culprits if you choose sports drinks over soft drinks. Depending on the sports drink, some are filled with as many as eight teaspoons per beverage. If your sports drink is of the “sugar-free” kind, don’t be fooled. To help mask the electrolytes in the beverage, sports drink makers also employ the use of acids. This means that while you are sipping your drink throughout your sporting event, you are creating a constant stream of acid attacks on your teeth that last approximately 20 minutes per attack, leaving your enamel soft and susceptible to damage.

Natural sugars can do just as much damage as processed

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” may be true – however, it may not necessarily keep the dentist away. Due to the method of cultivating and hybrid apples now available on the market, apples now contain a drastically larger amount of sugar than they used to. While eating an apple a day will not leave you rushing to the dentist, it may still cause a negative impact upon your enamel as your body (and mouth) doesn’t necessarily differentiate the difference between “natural” sugars and “processed” sugars.

Does this mean I can’t eat or drink these anymore?

No, as long as you are smart about what you consume and the quantity, you can enjoy your favourite treats. The saying “everything in moderation” stands remarkably accurate.

You can still enjoy your favourite soft drinks, fruits and fruit juices, just make sure when you consume them you are doing so at meal times. When playing sport, despite the added selling factor of “contains electrolytes”, you should always try to rehydrate with water.

So how can I reduce or prevent damage to my enamel?

So if fruit, soft drink, “sugar-free” confectionary and sports drinks all cause enamel damage, what is there left to indulge in? Well, you don’t have to cut these items out entirely, there are some ways to minimise the impacts of these foods while still enjoying them (though maybe not as often as you used to).

  • Pair fruits with fats such as cream or cheese (particularly peaches, pineapples and other highly sweet fruits). Cheese is rich in calcium and phosphorous, which will aid in remineralisation of the teeth after an acid attack.
  • Drink milk – milk helps to protect the enamel by forming a thin film on the tooth’s surface, preventing damage.
  • Eat acidic foods during meal times. If the rest of your meal is healthy, it will help neutralise the acidity in your mouth.
  • If consuming sugary drinks (or their “sugar-free” counterparts) use a straw, this helps push the liquid straight to the back of the mouth and avoid your teeth.
  • Chew sugar-free gum. While this may seem contradictory, gum encourages saliva production. Saliva helps neutralise acid attacks and remineralise the teeth.
  • Brush with fluoride toothpaste. Despite the common debate, fluoride is safe and contributes to remineralise the teeth.
  • Arrange regular dental check-ups, this means your dentist will be able to pinpoint any weaknesses in your enamel ASAP and suggest corrective measures.

Acid attacks gradually wear down the teeth, leading to sensitivity and cavities.

The effects of soft drink and how to prevent cavities

If you are experiencing sensitivity when you consume sugary, cold, hot or sour foods it may be time for a check-up. Sensitivity is a sign the enamel is dangerously thin and, should be seen to promptly. Contact G Dental today on (03) 9435 6063 to arrange a check-up.

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