Stevia: Is This Sugar Alternative Safe for Your Teeth?
By their very nature, alternative sweeteners seem a little too good to be true. The claim is that they offer sweetness without the unwanted health effects of sugar.
Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes several sugar alternatives as generally safe,1 these sweeteners are not the same in terms of the risks and benefits they pose. In fact, some have been linked to several health problems.2
But one sugar alternative stands out from the pack: Stevia. Because it’s made from a plant, Stevia is not considered an artificial sweetener but rather a natural sweetener.
What Is Stevia, and Where Can You Find It?
Stevia is unique in the sugar alternative world because it’s the only FDA-approved natural sweetener. Stevia is made from the stevia plant, so it’s not synthetic like artificial sweeteners.
Stevia is available in powder/granular or liquid forms at most supermarkets. Stevia can be added to all sorts of foods and beverages that would use sugar, although you would use much less Stevia because it is much sweeter than sugar (up to 300 times sweeter).3
The Bottom Line: Is Stevia Tooth Safe?
In short: Yes, Stevia is safe for your oral health. Here’s why: Have you ever wondered why your dentist wants you to limit your sugar intake? Because sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth that cause tooth decay and cavities. Sugar is a high-fermentable carbohydrate – this type of carbohydrate is linked to a higher risk of cavities.
Stevia not only has no calories but also no carbohydrates, so it doesn’t feed cavity-causing bacteria. Therefore, it won’t pose the oral health risks of sugar.3
Finding healthful alternatives is a great way to enjoy the foods you love while maintaining your oral health. If you’re interested in adding Stevia to your diet but have questions, talk to your dentist. Diets are complex, and your dentist can help you navigate through any challenges and find the diet that fits with your health and lifestyle.