Numerous times you will come across drinks claiming to be ‘sugar free’….but are they really?
The immediate presumption would be that ‘sugar free’ or ‘diet’ really means sugar free, however this isn’t always the case. Most people are aware of high sugar intake causing tooth decay, but there is also the need to be careful of the acidity too. Diet drinks, fruit juices and other no added sugar drinks can have a higher acidity, meaning a higher risk of tooth erosion due to the lower pH.
Studies carried out by the Oral Health CRC on sugar-free drinks, sugar-free confectionery, and sports drinks found that “many of these products contained multiple acids and had low pH values.” Essentially, many people think that switching from regular to diet soda will keep their teeth healthy. Unfortunately, although they often contain no sugar, diet sodas usually cause about the same amount of dental erosion as regular sodas and can harm your teeth.
In addition to this, diet or sugar-free drinks also contain phosphoric acid which is also found in regular fizzy drinks. Citric and tartaric acids are just a couple of the added ingredients in diet drinks and fruit juices that can cause harm to your teeth. This happens by the frequent acid attacks occurring to your teeth whilst you drink, therefore weakening the tooth enamel, and causing decay over time.
But what should I drink that won’t harm my teeth?
Of course we still need something to drink! Sugary and sugar-free drinks should only be consumed with a meal, in order to minimise harmful attacks on the teeth.
In between meals, the drinks of choice should be water, plain sparkling water (no flavourings!) and milk.
After any acidic meals or drinks, you should rinse your mouth with water, drink milk or even snack on a little bit of cheese. Dairy and other calcium-rich foods can help neutralize acids. It’s also good to limit snacking between meals, so your saliva has time to rebalance its pH.
Cutting down on sugar is the perfect lifestyle choice to make. However remember to be mindful of what replacements you choose, and to take optimal care of your oral hygiene!
If you would like any further tips and advice on your oral hygiene and diet, our fantastic oral health educator, Beth, could help you. Just get in touch with us to make an appointment!