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The holidays are here and you are probably working hard to take good care of your waistline. In your quest to keep the pounds off, you might be switching to sugar-free substitutes where you can. But how healthy are sugar-free drinks and treats for your teeth?

There are sugar-free sodas, sports drinks, teas, lozenges and chewing gum. Some are good and some, not so much, when it comes to the health of your pearly whites. The reason? It’s all in the additives.

The University of Melbourne conducted a study through its Oral Health Cooperative Research Center division and found that sugar-free drinks have acidic additives. Because they are low pH, this means they are damaging to tooth enamel, as the acid dissolves the hard tissues of the teeth. Over time, dental erosion exposes the soft parts of the tooth which results in tooth sensitivity and pain.

In the study, the sugar-free sports drinks and soft drinks resulted in dental enamel softening by 30-50 percent. And out of eight sports drinks evaluated, a whopping six of them caused loss of dental enamel and the two that did not were fortified by calcium.

Throat lozenges were another contender for the acid erosion. Even though they are sugar-free, they still have a demineralization effect on your pearly whites because they end up sitting in one area of the mouth for a long time, so your teeth are coated with concentrated acid buildup.

However, sugar-free chewing gum virtually strengthens teeth by cutting down on tooth decay as the chewing action stimulates saliva production, reducing plaque acid. Saliva actually has enzymes which kill plaque-causing bacteria.

This holiday season, eat as healthy as you can while indulging in the treats you look forward to all year. Spend a little extra time on your oral hygiene routine, brushing and flossing at least twice a day, and don’t skip your six months deep dental cleaning appointment with your dentist.

Please call us at 281-328-3569 for any questions or concerns about your oral health, and keep that smile healthy and bright!