In honor of Women’s Health and Fitness Day (September 26), I’m tackling the battle between sugar and artificial sweeteners. Which is the better choice for you?
It’s common knowledge that too much sugar is bad for your teeth; however, many people don’t know why sugar has such a bad rap. The problem is actually found in the streptococcus bacteria in your mouth. This bacterium feeds on sugar and excretes acids that break down tooth enamel and leads to cavities (wow – repeat that at a cocktail party and you’ll sound really smart).
The beauty of artificial sweeteners is they don’t have this effect on your teeth. They don’t have the same chemical make-up of sugar so the bacterium doesn’t feed on them. No acid is created and no harm is done to your teeth. Overall, artificial sweeteners are better for your teeth.
I know we’ve all seen claims that artificial sweeteners are not so good for you though. I’m sure you’ve read different articles about artificial sweeteners making you eat more or causing cancer. The FDA clearly says there is no evidence to link them to cancer, but it certainly has been a rampant urban myth.
There’s a little more data about artificial sweeteners leading to overeating. Studies have shown that when consuming sugar, parts of the brain related to satisfaction are stimulated. Sadly, artificial sweeteners do not have this same effect. Because of this strange brain reaction, people may be more tempted to consume more of something that has been sweetened with artificial sweeteners.
Even though artificial sweeteners pose no immediate threat to your teeth or your health, we can all agree that sugar-free ice cream just doesn’t taste the same. The best way to protect your teeth from sugar-related issues is to brush after you’ve satisfied your sweet tooth.