A team of researchers have just discovered that sugar-free drinks are just as harmful to teeth as sweetened beverages.
According to the researchers, these types of products still contain acidic chemicals that can lead to dental damage, Fox News reported.
For the study, the team from the University of Melbourne's Oral Health Cooperative Research Center (CRC) in Australia analyzed 23 different kinds of sugar-free beverages that are currently available in the market. The researchers also looked that the data on oral health collected by the facility.
They discovered that these kinds of drinks can induce dental enamel softening by at least a half. Eric Reynolds, one of the authors of the study and a the CEO of Oral Health CRC explained that this is due to the acidic chemicals found in most sugar-free beverages such as soft drinks, sports drinks and even flavored bottled water.
"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," he said in a statement according to Medical News Today.
He then went on to say that when people consume sugar, this develops a layer of plaque on the surface of their teeth. Bacteria then feed on this layer and turn it into acid.
If the acidic byproduct remains on the surface of the teeth, it can cause the enamel to erode. This can then lead to tooth decay.
In the same way, sugar-free drinks and food items that contain acidic ingredients can also produce the same effect on teeth.
"We have even found sugar-free confectionary products that are labeled 'tooth-friendly' and which when tested were found to be erosive," Reynolds said.
To avoid dental problems, Reynolds and his team recommend avoiding sugar-free items that contain acidic ingredients like phosphoric acid and citric acid. Also, after consuming acidic or sugary products, people should immediately rinse their mouth with water. However, they should wait about an hour before they brush their teeth to avoid accidentally removing the layer of their teeth that has been softened.
In addition, after drinking beverages that are high in acid, they should chew sugarless gum to increase the production of saliva. This natural fluid has been found to neutralize the effects of acid on teeth. Likewise, people should avoid drinking soda when they are thirsty because this is the time when their saliva levels are at their lowest.