We're often asked by parents trying to cut back on their children’s sugar consumption whether or not sugar substitutes have and adverse effect on oral health like real sugar does.
Sugar substitutes do not present the same tooth decay and gingivitis risks that real sugar does. Part of the reason for this is that sugar in and of itself isn’t actually what causes these problems. The real culprit is actually the bacteria in dental plaque, which metabolizes sugar, and releases acids that are corrosive to dental enamel.
Sugar substitutes don’t have this effect. In fact, certain sweeteners (those called polyols) actually have antibacterial properties!
Polyols include malitol, sorbitol, xylitol and isomalt. These are not broken down by oral bacteria, so they don’t contribute to the formation of cavities.
Sugar substitutes should be consumed in moderation, as part of a well rounded, nutritious diet. And ultimately, your best defense against cavities and gum disease will always be a good oral hygiene routine at home, and regular visits to the dentist for check ups and cleanings.