Throughout our lives, we’ve likely been told that when it comes to cavities, sugar is a big no-no. That’s because sugar feeds the oral bacteria S.Mutans, which causes the chemical reaction that produces the acid that eats away at our teeth and causes cavities. Naturally, swapping out sugar for sugar-free products is an easy way to get the sweet taste we crave without the cavity risk, right? Unfortunately, that may not be the case when it comes to artificial sweeteners.
A recent video segment hosted by Dr. Pamela Maragliano-Muniz and Dr. Brian Novy caught our attention when it discussed artificial sweeteners that may not be so ‘sweet’ after all.
It seems that while popular sweeteners, sorbitol, and mannitol may not contain sugar, according to Novy and Maragliano-Muniz, they aren’t too great for your teeth, either. Worse yet, the sweeteners can be found in products that are very important for health, including nicotine lozenges which help patients attempting to quit smoking.
Why is this so bad? After all, isn’t a little artificial sugar worth the risk to achieve the loftier goal of quitting smoking? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t so simple.
You see, when you consume a nicotine lozenge, you don’t crunch the lozenge quickly as you might with another type of lozenge or hard candy. The goal is to keep the lozenge in your mouth until it dissolves, giving you a steady stream of nicotine to help alleviate your nicotine craving. Unfortunately, therein lies the problem. As you are holding the lozenge against your teeth, you are also letting that sticky sweetener touch your teeth and holding it there while it dissolves. Combine that with a sweetener that is easy for bacteria to digest, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Worse yet, if the lozenge contains flavorings such as citrus (which contain citric or lactic acid) that is another strike against your teeth because this type of flavoring also feeds that nasty s. Mutans bacteria that cause those even nastier cavities.
So, what’s the bottom line on artificial sweeteners – and on nicotine lozenges? Well, for starters, not all sweeteners are created equally. You may have heard that the sugar-substitute Xylitol is not only a natural tasting sugar substitute, but it’s actually good for the teeth. Xylitol is an excellent substitute for sugar and is even used in some gums and candies that are touted as safe for teeth.
As for quitting smoking with lozenges, speak to your doctor or dentist about the pros and cons. If you do decide to go the lozenge route, be cognizant of how much time the lozenge is in your mouth, and be sure to brush your teeth after consuming your lozenge to clean the residue off your teeth.