Artificial Sweeteners: The “Cure-All” for Cavities?
You love that sugary taste, but you’ve heard this line for years- sugar causes cavities. Surely that means that using artificial sweeteners instead will be the cure- no sugar, no cavities. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple.
While you’ve often heard that sugar causes cavities, really the oral bacteria are to blame. The harmful bacteria in your mouth need food to thrive, and their food of choice is fermentable sugar. The more sugar you have, the more prolonged contact it has with your teeth, and your dental hygiene habits all play a role in your likelihood for cavities. This means that using artificial sweeteners, which bacteria are unable to break down, can help reduce your risk of cavities.
However, the sugar and bacteria combination isn’t the only threat to your dental health. Acid is also a danger. Soda and juices are serious contributors of acid, and that acid can erode the protective enamel on your teeth. Many people mistakenly believe that because they are drinking diet soda, or juice sweetened with artificial sweeteners, that they are making the healthy choice for their teeth. Diet sodas and drinks still have plenty of acid and can cause enamel erosion. Without enamel, your teeth are defenseless and will be much more sensitive.
Even if you primarily use artificial sweeteners, it is no replacement for proper oral hygiene. A variety of foods can be broken down into fermentable sugars- the food of the bacteria. You must regularly remove the plaque that continually builds up on the surfaces of your teeth. To prevent cavities, the best course of action is to develop a habit of brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings.
If you have weak teeth, a history of gum disease, or other oral health concerns, our experienced team at Carter Periodontics and Implant Dentistry is here to help. We can make specific recommendations based on your unique oral situation and health history. Call us today to schedule a consultation. We are your oral health experts.