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Today we know all about the hazards of excess sugar on the body and the teeth. But what about sugar-free foods and drinks? Should they be freely consumed?

According to the Oral Health Cooperative Research Center at the University of Melbourne, you may want to approach your sugar-free beverages with caution. Sugar-free drinks like soda and sports drinks are low in pH because they abound in acidic additives which dissolve the hard tissues of the teeth. Your pearly whites are actually susceptible to dental erosion which exposes the soft parts within the tooth, because of this acid. Just when you thought you were in the clear….

The study also determined that those subjects who drank sodas and sports drinks, while sugar-free, softened dental enamel from 30-50 percent. And out of the eight sports drinks evaluated, six of them caused loss of dental enamel. And the two that didn’t? They were fortified with calcium.

What about throat lozenges available in sugar-free versions? This is the time of year for colds and flu and sore throats. Turns out these lozenges also build up a concentrated amount of acid on the enamel for the simple reason that they sit for long periods of time in one area.

One bright side to the sugar-free dilemma is chewing sugar-free gum. As it turns out, the chewing action stimulates saliva production, which has enzymes that destroy plaque acids and protects tooth enamel from erosion. So by all means, chew sugar-free gum and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. This prevents dry mouth and keeps the teeth bathed in protective saliva.

This holiday season, no matter what you end up consuming, take extra time to brush and floss your teeth whenever you eat. At the very least, rinse your mouth with water after eating to remove some of the acids from the foods you eat, and brush and floss diligently at least twice a day.

See your dentist at your next scheduled dental cleaning to remove tartar and take care of the gums and you will be well on your way to a healthier smile. Please call our office at 319.291.3908 with any questions or concerns about your oral health.