For those who drink diet soda and other diet drinks, one of your primary arguments for doing so is reducing your sugar intake. While there’s been some documentation that some of the chemicals in diet sodas can play a role in weight gain, there’s mounting evidence that diet drinks with artificial sweeteners can play a role in tooth decay.
The common perception is that if there’s no sugar in a drink then it’s better for your teeth. In theory, that’s true. A regular soda with sugar is worse for your teeth than a diet soda, but that doesn’t tell the entire story.
The bacteria in your mouth will not use artificial sweetener to form acid the way it does with regular sugars. But that doesn’t mean a diet soda can’t harm your teeth. The diet drinks are acidic on their own without the aid of the bacteria to help form the acid. Both regular and diet soda can demineralize a tooth, causing erosion and cavities. So, although a soda with sugar may be slightly worse at causing cavities and erosion, diet drinks are not without consequences.
So what should diet-conscious consumers drink if sugar and sugar sweeteners are both bad? Good old fashioned water from the tap doesn’t cause any erosion of your teeth over any amount of exposure. It also has no calories. And, depending on your community, even offers fluoride.
Of course, it’s probably not realistic to think that people can drink only water and never have a soft drink. Moderation, as it is with everything, is the key. And if you want to have a diet soda, be sure to brush or at least rinse your mouth out with water shortly after to lessen the exposure to those acids found in diet drinks.”
Beyond drinking water and careful brushing, select drinks that utilize sweeteners made from natural ingredients, like Stevia.
The news on artificial sweeteners, however, is not all bad. In fact, there are sweeteners out there that utilize sugar alcohols that can actually protect against dental cavities, for example, Xylitol.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener sourced from strawberries and other fruits. It’s not in drinks yet, but you can find Xylitol in chewing gums, syrups, candies and tooth pastes. Bacteria in your mouth are not able to breakdown Xylitol when you chew gum or eat candy containing the ingredients. Therefore, no bacterial acids are produced. In the absence of bacterial acids, the process of cavity formation is nullified before it even begins. This makes Xylitol that rare thing – a sweetener that’s actually good for your teeth.