27 Jan

The Diet Dilemma: How Low Calorie Sweeteners Affect Your Teeth

shutterstock_30616099At this time of year, many of us make a conscious effort to try and shed those Christmas pounds and get in shape. Sometimes, this involves making changes to our diet, including adding low calorie alternatives to our favourite foods. It sounds like a winning formula, but are artificial sweeteners actually good for you? Research suggests that consuming sweeteners could be as damaging as following a high-sugar diet.

The dangers of low calorie sweeteners

Researchers have found that low-calorie sweeteners can be harmful for your oral health because they can increase acidity in the mouth. Most people are aware that sugary foods increase the risk of cavities, but are you aware of the impact of acids? Acids erode the enamel, and once the enamel is weak, there is a risk of cavities forming. Studies have suggested that a group of sweeteners known as polyols can be particularly damaging.
Researchers have also warned that low-sugar alternatives to popular foods may still contain a hefty amount of sugar. It’s important to check the labels before you buy. Most foods are now labelled with a traffic light sticker, which tells you whether the content of fat, protein, sugar, and salt is low, moderate or high. Try and avoid foods that have a red sticker for sugar content.
Take care when drinking drinks like low-calorie pop and juices. Low-calorie drinks are still very acidic, which damages your enamel, and juices are often both sugary and acidic.

Tooth-friendly foods to try instead

If you’re trying to make positive changes to your diet, look out for tooth-friendly alternatives to your favourite foods. If you have a sweet tooth, for example, add some berries or a spoonful of honey to a bowl of Greek yoghurt or chop up some fresh fruit and make your own smoothies. Smoothies are incredibly popular, but try to avoid buying them from cafes and shops, as they tend to contain a lot of sugar. If you make your own at home, you have control of the ingredients.
If you’d like advice about healthy eating, our dental team will be happy to help.