It’s a well-known fact that sugary sodas and sports drinks can directly harm to your dental health, but according to new research from the government-sponsored group The Oral Health CRC, even sugar-free drinks could be causing major damage.
As reported by Men’s Journal, the new study suggests that sugar-free soft drinks cause just as much erosion to tooth enamel as regular, sugar-filled versions.
The researchers tested 15 different soft drinks on extracted molars. The teeth that were exposed to sugar-free soft drinks ended up with nearly the same amount of erosion as the teeth exposed to regular soft drinks.
In other words, it’s not just the sugar in soft drinks that causes tooth decay. Although natural sugar does cause tooth enamel to erode, researchers believe that the chemicals in sugar-free drinks may have the same effect on teeth.
Chemicals like xylitol and sorbitol have been used as sugar substitutes in “diet” soft drinks for a while now, and because these drinks contain no real sugars, many people have been led to believe that diet sodas are safer on the teeth. Another common misconception is that non-carbonated sports drinks are healthier than regular sodas, too.
Considering that as many as one in five Americans have untreated cavities and dental decay — and considering that fewer Americans are drinking soda on a daily basis — it’s not entirely surprising that there are a variety of foods and drinks that contribute to poor dental health.