New Study Finds Sugar Free Drinks Cause Tooth Decay

General & Cosmetic Dentist serving Hoboken, Jersey City & Hudson County areas of New Jersey


There are many reasons why people try to avoid sugary drinks. Some are related to health reasons, such as keeping blood sugar levels low and reducing the risk of diabetes. Others steer clear of sugary drinks in order to keep their weight down. Another common reason relates to oral health – sugary drinks have long been linked with an increased risk of tooth decay. But did you realize that you are just as likely to develop cavities from sugar free drinks?

A recent study found that there is very little difference in the levels of tooth decay caused by drinking sugary and sugar free drinks. The study, conducted at the University of Melbourne, concluded that sugar free drinks are actually just as detrimental to your oral health as beverages loaded with sugar.

“While reducing your sugar intake does reduce your risk of dental decay, the chemical mix of acids in some foods and drinks can cause the equally damaging condition of dental erosion,” says Eric Reynolds, co-author of the study.

According to the study, the acids in many sugar free drinks are just as dangerous to the health of your teeth as the acids produced when the bacteria in your mouth interact with sugar and carbohydrates. For this reason, Dr. Frank and the rest of our Hoboken general dentists recommend consuming mainly water in order to maintain optimal levels of oral hygiene.

The University of Melbourne study evaluated 23 different drinks, both with and without sugar, on 70 human molars. Overall, sugar and sugar free drinks resulted in comparable levels of tooth enamel erosion, while water and milk-based drinks were less detrimental to oral health. The majority of sugar and sugar free drinks resulted in a 30-50% softening of tooth enamel.

In the first phase of the study, participants drank 15 different beverages (sugary and sugar free) found in Australian schools. All drinks other than milk resulted in tooth decay.

In the second phase of the study, participants drank water, Coca Cola, and eight different types of sports drinks. Coca Cola resulted in the most decay and water resulted in no cavities. The sports drinks all resulted in a comparable level of tooth decay, although it was less pronounced than the level caused by drinking Coke. These participants also consumed 32 sugar free baked goods containing a similar level of acidity as sugar free drinks. These baked goods resulted in tooth decay as well, with fruit-flavored treats being the most hazardous to your oral health.

Even if you primarily drink water and maintain a good daily oral hygiene regimen of brushing and flossing, it’s important to visit our Hoboken dental office twice a year for your regularly scheduled dental cleanings. During these visits, Dr. Frank will remove any plaque and tartar that has built up on your teeth and gums. He’ll also check your teeth for any signs of decay in order to treat cavities in their early stages.

Please contact the Practice at Maxwell Place using the form at the right side of the page or call 201-792-9400 today to schedule your next dental cleaning. Dr. Frank DePaola serves patients in Hoboken, Jersey City and throughout Hudson County, New Jersey.