There are a number of different sugar substitutes on the market today. Most people know about aspartame, a common ingredient in diet sodas, but there's also saccharin, sucralose, advantame, and many others. Most are known by their brand names such as Equal and Sweet'N Low.
While there has been some debate on how safe these sugar substitutes are, there is some good news: they don't affect your teeth in the same way that real sugar does.
They Don't Cause Cavities
The bacteria in plaque need to eat sugar in order to create the acid that damages your teeth. Sugar substitutes simply aren't appealing to them. They don't have the sugar that these bacteria need, so they don't damage your teeth at all. In fact, studies have shown that certain gums that use aspartame may actually help stop cavities from forming because they promote the production of saliva. This helps to wash away any food particles that have stuck to your teeth, depriving the bacteria of its sugary meal.
Types of Sugar Substitutes
Sugar substitutes can be classified as either non-caloric or sugar alcohol substitutes. Noncaloric substitutes like aspartame are safer for your teeth. They're often found in diet drinks and other sugarless snacks because they contain no calories.
Sugar alcohol substitutes are very similar, but they do contain calories. However, they also don't promote cavities or other oral health issues. This means that both types of sugar substitutes are better for your teeth than real sugar. If you have a sweet tooth and simply can't resist reaching for those sugary treats, looking for sugar-free options or baking with a sugar substitute will allow you to have your cake and eat it, too.
It Doesn't Mean You Can Skip on the Cleanings
Just because you're eating snacks with sugar substitutes doesn't mean your teeth aren't still covered in plaque. You still need to brush and floss regularly, and you can't skip your six-month cleanings. If you're behind, call us today to set up an appointment.
Century Dental Dr. Jefferson Call, DMD & Dr. Dix Densley, DDS