Why are low calorie sweeteners friendly to oral health?

ISA supports World Dental Federation in raising awareness about good oral hygiene practice in light of World Oral Health Day

Caring about oral health is crucial when we know that oral disease affects 3.9 billion people worldwide, with untreated tooth decay (dental caries) impacting almost half of the world’s population (44%)1. Committed to its objective to raise awareness on important health issues, the International Sweeteners Association (ISA) supports FDI World Dental Federation this year again in celebrating World Oral Health Day, and in highlighting that good oral hygiene is critical to “Live Mouth Smart”. 2

Adopting good oral hygiene habits and following a healthy lower-sugar diet can help people maintain optimal oral health from early in life into older age. Used as an alternative to sugar in foods and beverages, low calorie sweeteners have an important role to play in the prevention of oral diseases and management of dental health.

Low calorie sweeteners can be a dental health ally

Low calorie sweeteners are non-cariogenic ingredients, meaning that they are not broken down by oral bacteria and do not contribute to tooth decay3. Used as sugar replacement in foods and beverages, low calorie sweeteners allow people to enjoy sweet-tasting products whilst reducing the risk of dental caries.

The dental health benefit of low calorie sweeteners is supported by strong scientific evidence and has been recognised in a Scientific Opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 20114. In 2012, and based on EFSA’s conclusion, the European Commission has authorised a health claim supporting low calorie sweeteners’ role in dental health: “intense sweeteners maintain tooth mineralisation by decreasing tooth demineralisation if consumed instead of sugars” (Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012).

Having reviewed the scientific literature, a panel of independent experts concluded in a consensus paper published in 2014 that “LCS [low calorie sweeteners] have dental benefits when used in food, beverages, toothpaste and medications, provided other constituents are also non-cariogenic and non-erosive.”5 Research also shows that chewing sugar-free gum can help protect teeth in a number of ways.6

You may read more information about the role of low calorie sweeteners in the prevention and management of oral diseases by downloading the ISA factsheet on oral health here.

Five smart tips for good oral hygiene

Good oral hygiene habits, avoiding risk factors and having a regular dental check-up from early in life can help maintain optimal oral health into old age. Here below you will find a few smart tips that can help you ‘Live Mouth Smart’:

  • Brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day, using a fluoride toothpaste
  • Eat a healthy diet, with limited snacking of foods and drinks high in sugar. Low calorie sweeteners are non-cariogenic and can be used in place of sugar to provide sweet taste without affecting dental health
  • Quit smoking/ tobacco use
  • Limit your alcohol consumption
  • Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash or chew sugar-free gum after meals and snacks when brushing isn’t possible
  • Lastly, do not forget to visit your dentist or primary healthcare provider regularly for check-ups and cleanings.

  1. FDI World Dental Federation. The oral health atlas. 2nd edition. 2015. Available online here: http://www.fdiworlddental.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/complete_oh_atlas.pdf
  2. World Oral Health Day (WOHD). Available online here: http://www.worldoralhealthday.org
  3. Grenby TH (1991) Update on low-calorie sweeteners to benefit dental health. International Dental Journal 41: 217–24.
  4. EFSA NDA (EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products Nutrition and Allergies). Scientific opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to intense sweeteners and contribution to the maintenance or achievement of a normal body weight (ID 1136, 1444, 4299), reduction of post-prandial glycaemic responses (ID 4298), maintenance of normal blood glucose concentrations (ID 1221, 4298), and maintenance of tooth mineralisation by decreasing tooth demineralisation (ID 1134, 1167, 1283) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. EFSA 2011 Journal 9: 2229
  5. Gibson et al. Consensus statement on benefits of low calorie sweeteners. Nutrition Bulletin 2014
  6. Szo?ke J, Proskin HM, Banoczy J. Effect of after-meal sugarfree gum chewing on clinical caries. J Dent Res. 2001; 80(8): 1725-729