As tempting as it may be to indulge your sweet tooth, sugar has long been the culprit cited most often as the major cause of tooth decay. While giving up sweet stuff forever may sound like too daunting a task, there are ways that you can indulge from time to time with sugar substitutes. Here’s a look at some of the most popular sugar-replacers, from the dentists at Smile Today.
Stevia is an herb found in Central and South America that’s actually sweeter than sugar. You can find it in grocery stores and health food stores everywhere under a couple different brands (Truvia and Sweetleaf are popular ones). Studies have suggested that stevia is not fermentable like sugar, meaning the bacteria in your mouth cannot digest it and produce acids that cause cavities. Stevia works well in coffee and tea, but there are no versions that are appropriate for baking just yet.
Used often in sugar-free gums, xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that actually helps protect your teeth from decay. Studies have shown that xylitol inhibits the growth of bacteria that causes cavities. Due to its increased popularity, xylitol is becoming more widely available every day. This one is especially popular for baking, since it’s as sweet as sugar but has less calories.
Other options, such as aspartame, sucralose, saccharin and sorbitol are not as guilty as regular sugar in causing cavities, but they’re not good for your teeth at all, like stevia and xylitol are. It’s also a good idea to be careful with the sugar alcohols like sorbitol, because they can cause digestive problems.
Regardless of the substitutes you use, it is still vitally important to stay up to speed with your oral hygiene. The ADA recommends brushing at least twice daily and flossing at least once daily. Regular visits to the dentist will also help ensure a lifetime of great oral health. If it’s time for a checkup, make an appointment today!