The Low Down on Sugar-Free

Sugar free products might cause dental erosion

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Sugar-free products have taken over the nation showing up in beverages and foods. They have been thought to lower caloric intake and prevent dental caries. How much of this is really true?

There’s so much health information it can be difficult to keep track of what’s considered “good” for you. But, don’t be misled by brands like sugar-free because it might not be that great for your health or teeth.

"Avoid acidic flavoring in sugar-free drinks for the sake of your teeth."

Hossein Nadimi, from the Institute of Dentistry at the University of Helsinki in Finland, studied sugar alcohols, also known as polyols, to see the effects on dental health. Sugar alcohols are a group of sugar substitutes that are not readily absorbed by the intestine into the blood stream. This group of sugar substitutes is good for diabetics because it doesn’t raise blood glucose levels and it can potentially lower calorie intake.

After analyzing the literature, the researchers found that Xylitol, a sugar alcohol found in many sugar-free products, is considered “tooth friendly” by the European Union and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for decreasing the risk for dental decay.

However, the acidic flavorings and preservatives in sugar-free products can cause dental erosion – wearing down of the enamel.

The researchers gathered recent data up until October 2010 from PubMed, the Cochrane Collaboration, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination in the United Kingdom, National Library for Public Health and Centre for Evidence Based Dentistry websites.

More research is needed in this area, but it's important to know that sugar-free products that have acidic flavoring can be doing more harm than good for your teeth.

This review is titled “Are sugar-free confections really beneficial for dental health?” and is reported in the British Dental Journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 12, 2011
Last Updated:
October 15, 2011