There is a lot of confusion among the general public around sugar, sweeteners, ‘no added sugar’, ‘naturally occurring sugars’, ‘free sugars’ and sugar alternatives such as Xylitol. We commissioned Elaine Gardner of the British Dietetic Association [the other BDA!] to sort fact from fiction and provide advice that you can share with your patients on the effects of sugars and alternative sugars on general and oral health.
In a series of brief reports published in British Dental Journal, Elaine Gardner, Registered Dietitian and British Dietetic Association (BDA) spokesperson, provides top-line information about different sweeteners including some alternative types of sugars (e.g. agave nectar and coconut sugar), polyols (xylitol) and some low calorie sweeteners (steviol glycosides and sucralose).
With regards to low calorie sweeteners’ impact on oral health, it is highlighted that low calorie sweeteners have no effect on tooth decay as they do not contain any fermentable carbohydrate, and therefore, are friendly to teeth. The author also reminds of the scientific opinion by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA, 2011), which supports that intense sweeteners, as all sugar replacers, maintain tooth mineralisation by decreasing tooth demineralisation if consumed instead of sugars.