It’s commonly accepted that sugar is bad news for your teeth. Sugar is highly acidic and can wear away tooth enamel, not to mention cause bacteria that can lead to tooth decay. But sugar is an enjoyable part of so many dishes and treats, which often leads people to reach for sugar free options that they may think are better for their teeth.
But is sugar free candy really better for your teeth than regular candy? It has to be, right? Not so fast. Here’s why you may want to think twice before reaching for candy with a sugar free label at the store!
Sugar Free Candy Can Still Be Acidic
One of the many reasons sugar is considered bad for your oral health is because it can be very acidic. Your oral cavity needs to maintain a relatively neutral pH of close to 7. However, many foods containing sugar and even sugar free treats can be acidic, causing a corrosive effect on enamel .
Many sugar free substitutes have a pH of below 4.5, making them more harsh on your teeth and potentially causing irreversible enamel damage, which doesn’t make them much better than plain old sugar!
Some Candies May Cause Dental Erosion and Tooth Sensitivity
Dental erosion simply means the wearing away of the harder tissues of your teeth, namely your tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is hard and shiny, and protects the softer tissues of your teeth from harm including decay and infection. While sugar free candy may reduce your risk for cavities, its negative effect on tooth enamel can make your teeth more susceptible the bacteria that cause tooth decay .
Unfortunately, the body can’t regrow tooth enamel, so once it’s gone, it can’t be restored.
Which Sugar Free Products Are Safe and Which Are Not?
While sugar free products aren’t the best for your oral health, many people who have complications with blood sugar such as those who live with diabetes rely on them for safer options for their health. So which sugar free products are safer for your smile and which ones should you avoid?
- Mint products are generally safer than fruit-flavored or sour-tasting candies. Watch out for very acidic added ingredients such as phosphoric acid and citric acid in sugar free candies .
- Sugar free gum is generally considered to be safe and healthy for teeth and may even help prevent cavities by stimulating saliva production and strengthening tooth enamel .
- Always avoid candies that require long exposure times, think lollipops, caramels, or hard candies. These are candies that expose your teeth to acids over a long period of time, which can be much more damaging than a quick chew and swallow.
The Bottom Line
Sugar free candy certainly has its benefits, and gives people looking to better control their blood sugar more options. However, when it comes to your smile, be just as choosy about sugar free options as ones with real sugar. As always, candy should be considered a treat, not a staple, which will help protect your body and your smile!