Are Sugarless Foods Really Safe for Your Teeth?

Are Sugarless Foods Really Safe for Your Teeth?

There has been a lot of debate about whether or not sugarless foods are safe for your teeth. Some people say that because these things do not have sugar in them, these cannot help promote tooth decay, thereby making these safe for your teeth. Some people even point out that they are told to chew sugarless gum when they cannot brush their teeth immediately in order to promote saliva production and to wash away the food residue in their mouth.

What people may not know is that, while these may be sugar-free, these are said to be unsafe for your teeth. Some studies state that, because these have rather acidic flavorings in them, that these sugarless foods can actually erode the enamel of your teeth. These same studies also state that sugar-free food does not cause cavities, especially when these have xylitol in them, which is said to have cavity fighting properties.

They also state that since tooth erosion and cavities are two different things, you can honestly say that sugarless foods cannot cause cavities, but nowhere does it say that it cannot damage your teeth. While there are studies that tell people that sugarless does not necessarily mean healthy, either for your body or your teeth, there seems to be no substantial proof of whether or not such substances can damage your teeth. This is where people get confused. Are they or are they not safe?

When you eat “sugarless”, it is a good idea to read the labels to find out what you are actually ingesting. There are some food choices that are sugar-free that are actually safe for both your body and your teeth. Some of the sugar substitutes that are considered safe for teeth, and for your overall health, include sucralose, and neotame.

Food that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners are generally safe for your teeth, and do not promote tooth decay, since these do not feed the bacteria that cause damage to teeth. You should be aware however, that while these may be considered sugarless, this does not mean that these foods do not have “natural sweeteners” in them, which are actually almost as harmful to your teeth as sugar.

The ingredients you need to look out for when buying these sugar-free foods include honey, barley malt, and molasses, to name but a few. Try to keep an eye out for ingredients like fructose and sucrose, since these indicate the presence of natural sweeteners. These can be just as bad for your teeth and are said to have the same number of calories as regular sugar.

So, how do you protect your teeth if the food that you think is supposedly safe for them is not as safe as you think? The only way you can actually guarantee that your teeth stay safe from decay and damage is to take good care of them, regardless of what you eat. Sure, avoiding the obviously decay-inducing sweet and “sugarfull” kinds of food is a given. Making sure that you brush your teeth regularly, floss daily, and visit your dentist at least twice a year, however, is what will really help keep your teeth healthy, whether you avoid “sugarless” or “sugar-free” food or not.


Dr. Allan Hawryluk
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Dr. Allan Hawryluk

Allan Hawryluk Jr. is a Mississauga-based dentist who has built a reputation for comprehensive dental care. Born and raised in Port Credit, he returned after completing his dental residency in 2003 at the University of Colorado, Denver Health Sciences Center. He feels privileged to serve the community and is committed to maintaining our clinic standards set by his late father - Dr. Allan R. Hawryluk (Sr).