While perusing your local grocery store, you can probably recall the popular belief that sugar-free is healthier for you. In most ways, it’s true. Sugar-free food and drink can improve your bodily health and lower your sugar intake. But there are a few sugar-free foods and drinks where losing the sugar can still expose your teeth to harmful effects. As a patient here in Nashville, TN, join us today as we take a look at what other traits of sugar-free selections that could still harm your smile.
The Anatomy of a Tooth
Before we dive into the mystery behind sugar-free food, let’s first take a look at the important layers of a tooth that are affected.
- Enamel: The enamel is the white, outermost layer of a tooth. It’s tough, but thin, and therefore can be susceptible to decay caused by sugar-eating bacteria.
- Dentin: This layer lies just underneath the enamel, and is also the thickest layer of the tooth. Comprised of a mineralized substance, the dentin protects the sensitive pulp layer. However, tooth decay can still deteriorate this layer.
- Pulp: The pulp is where the nerve endings and blood vessels reside, and damaging this layer can result in pain and soreness. If tooth decay reaches this layer, it may require a root canal to be healed.
- Cementum: The cementum is the tissue that secures the tooth to the jaw. Many patients may not realize that these tissues can also be deteriorated by tooth decay just as much.
What Are the Risks of Sugar-Free?
Sugar-free itself is not the problem, but rather the preservatives and other substances that get added in to keep the food or drink flavorful.
Sugar-free soda, such as diet sodas, are quite popular, but the real trouble lies in the carbonation and dark colors that sodas contain. Carbonation acts as an acid, that slowly eats away at your enamel over time. As a result, the enamel weakens and exposes your teeth to sugars from other sources of food. If you consume soda every day, you can imagine that the carbonation will take a toll and your smile, and you’d be correct. Patients who believe they are choosing the healthier option, but do not change the proportions, are putting their teeth at equal risk.
Many juices and flavored snacks may be sugar-free, but rely on citric and phosphoric acids to retain their flavoring and “tanginess.” These acids, while tasty, can still erode your enamel as much as carbonation can. As a result, your teeth are at just as much risk.
All in Moderation
Now, nutritional experts as well as our staff, are not saying that you should never drink soda or have other sugar-free snacks. We only recommend that you consume these treats in moderation, and brush and floss accordingly. This way, you can prevent these substances, like carbonation and citric acids, to deteriorate your enamel.
Ask Us About How to Best Care for Your Teeth
If you have any questions about healthy snack and drink options to correlate with your treatments, don’t be afraid to give us a call! At Dentistry of Nashville, we strive to educate our patients about best dental care practices. Whether you’re here for dental implants or a teeth whitening, it’s important to take your food/drink options into account. Contact us today at Dentistry of Nashville to schedule an appointment with Drs. Vaughan, Elam, and Fleming.