If you're a health nut chances are your fridge and pantry are stocked full of organic foods. It makes sense. Organic is natural and good for you, right?
Here’s one thing that you probably don't know: even “organic” can sometimes mean unhealthy — especially when it comes to your teeth.
What Do We Mean by “Bad for Your Teeth?”
We’ll let you in on a little secret:
Health and natural food store chains frequently boast artisan products such as candies, gums, or baked products that contain organic sugars. While the sugar may not be refined, it’s still just as unhealthy for your teeth.
Yes, those “organic” fruit snacks or treats sweetened with sugarcane juice are just as bad for your enamel as if you bought the ones filled with processed sugars. They all cause cavities.
You could unknowingly be setting yourself or your kids up for some big time dental issues down the road.
Why? Because eating organic sugar is just as bad for your smile (and your dental work) as drinking a can of soda from the vending machine.
The natural bacteria inside our mouths doesn’t differentiate between natural, organic, or refined sugars. To our oral flora, sugar is sugar. Once the nutrients inside of your mouth start to break down for digestion, all sugars — including organic ones — become acidic byproducts, or plaque biofilm. As such, the acidic biofilm etches away at your healthy tooth enamel until the repetitive exposures lead to a weakened area of active decay.
What About Artificial Sweeteners?
“Artificial” sweeteners can also be misleading. For instance, not all “sugar free” gums on the checkout isle are free of sweeteners that could damage your teeth. They still can trigger acid production which can lead to softening of enamel.
To date, the only proven natural sweetener that doesn’t cause tooth damage is xylitol. In fact, when you chew gums that have xylitol, it actually “cleans” your teeth in the process.
A Sweetener That’s Actually Good for Your Teeth
Let’s get scientific for a second. Xylitol is a five-carbon sugar, whereas other organic sugars or sweeteners are six-carbon. While this may not seem important, it makes a world of difference for your teeth. The different molecular design inhibits bacteria from producing acid.
Yes, that means exactly what it sounds like: clean teeth, healthier gums, and a happier smile. In fact, many dentists recommend chewing gums with xylitol to help improve oral health in both children and adults. But check the labels carefully, as “sugar-free” gum doesn’t always contain this key ingredient.
If you want to boost your or your child’s oral health you'd best not choose organically sweetened products. Strong oral health is as easy as picking up a xylitol-sweetened chewing gum the next time you're grocery shopping.