For many of us, myself included, sugar can be our Achilles’ heel. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t kick the feeling you get after a nice big cupcake. Even if you’re not a sugar fiend, most of us crave sugar at one time or another. And almost all foods, including fruits and vegetables, contain some type of sugar. But all sugar can contribute to tooth decay.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that you don’t have to avoid sweets altogether. Instead, try to avoid added sugars, like sucrose, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup and molasses. These sugars add calories to your diet, and have no nutritional value.
Instead, artificial sweeteners can reduce your calorie intake and also help people who have chronic conditions like diabetes manage their disease, according to the American Dietetic Association. And these sugar substitutes also can help prevent cavities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the following sweeteners:
Acesulfame-K: One of the few low-calorie sweeteners that can be heated without losing sweetness, which makes it great for baking. It’s in some candies, cough drops, frozen desserts, beverages and breath mints.
Aspartame: Used in diet drinks, cereal, gum, and as a tabletop sweetener.
Neotame: A general-purpose sweetener used in a wide variety of products.
Saccharin: This popular low-calorie sweetener has been in use for more than a century.
Sucralose: Stays sweet when heated, so you can cook with it. This sweetener is in some cereals, beverages and other prepared foods.
So don’t worry if you indulge your sweet tooth on occasion. Just keep in mind there are sugar substitutes to help keep your teeth healthy.