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    Sugar-Free Sodas, Candy Can Still Damage Teeth

    But, researchers add that there are easy ways to prevent lasting harm

    WebMD News from HealthDay

    By Robert Preidt

    HealthDay Reporter

    MONDAY, Nov. 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Even sugar-free sodas, sports drinks and candy can damage your teeth, a new study warns.

    Australian researchers tested 23 sugar-free and sugar-containing products, including soft drinks and sports drinks, and found that some with acidic additives and low pH levels (a measure of acidity) harm teeth, even if they are sugar-free.

    "Many people are not aware that while reducing your sugar intake does reduce your risk of dental decay, the chemical mix of acids in some foods and drinks can cause the equally damaging condition of dental erosion," said Eric Reynolds. He is laureate professor and CEO of the Oral Health Cooperative Research Center at Melbourne University.

    Dental erosion occurs when acid dissolves the tooth's hard tissues. "In its early stages erosion strips away the surface layers of tooth enamel. If it progresses to an advanced stage it can expose the soft pulp inside the tooth," he explained in a university news release.

    Reynolds and his colleagues found that most soft drinks and sports drinks caused dental enamel to soften by between 30 percent and 50 percent. Both sugar-free and sugar-containing soft drinks and flavored mineral waters caused measurable loss of the tooth surface.

    Of the eight sports drinks tested, six caused loss of tooth enamel. The researchers also found that many sugar-free candies contain high levels of citric acid and can erode tooth enamel.

    Just because something is sugar-free doesn't necessarily mean it's safe for teeth, Reynolds said. The study highlights the need for better product labeling and consumer information to help people choose food and drinks that are safe for their teeth, he added.

    Reynolds offered several tips to help you protect your teeth. Check product labels for acidic additives, especially citric acid and phosphoric acid. Drink more water (preferably fluoridated) and fewer soft drinks and sports drinks. And, finally, after consuming acidic food and drinks, rinse your mouth with water and wait an hour before brushing your teeth. Brushing immediately can remove the softened enamel, he said.

    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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