Beware of “Sugar-Free” sodas, candies and sport drinks.

Sugar isn’t the only dental risk factor in modern comfort foods and beverages. 

Recent research findings published in the Australian Dental Journal  ( ) show that the chemical components of “Sugar-Free” drinks and candies can be just as harmful to teeth as products with sugar. Many beverages and candies contain a large amount of acids that can soften the surface layer of tooth enamel that can lead to accelerated wear and erosion.

 There are a number of ways of effectively reducing and neutralising the impact of acidic foods and beverages on teeth. The Australian Dental Association makes the following recommendations:

•Drink more water (preferably flouridated), particularly between meals.

•After eating or drinking acidic products, don’t brush your teeth right away as this can remove the softened tooth layer. Instead, rinse your mouth with water and wait one hour before brushing.

•Limit the intake of soft drinks, fruit juices, sports drinks and diet drinks.

•If drinking acidic beverages, do so at meal times.

•Chew sugar-free gum (particularly one with bioavailable calcium phosphate) - this can stimulate saliva flow, rinse away acids, and re-harden softened enamel.

•Have regular check-ups with your oral health professional. People who believe they are at risk of dental erosion can talk to their oral health professional about using a remineralising treatment to replace lost calcium and phosphate.

Michael Bulger