Summary of: Are sugar-free confections really beneficial for dental health? Commentary

Research output: Contribution to JournalComment / Letter to the editorAcademic


Substitution of sucrose in candy with sugar alcohol polyols appears beneficial for dental caries prevention. Many people believe that sugar-free also means ingestion of fewer calories.1 Restriction of calorie intake has a major role in the treatment of obesity. For people with weight problems, a statement that a candy is sugar-free might generate a false healthy image, as the polyols in the candy still generate 50-65% of calories from the same amount of sucrose.

A sugar-free claim also does not necessarily mean that the product is tooth friendly. Many types of sugar-free candy contain organic acids such as citric acid and malic acid to develop a fresh sour taste. During consumption the acids will dissolve in saliva, decreasing the intra-oral pH from normal values of 6.7-7.4 to values well below 5.5, the pH-value generally adopted as the critical value below which hydroxyapatite dissolves. This risk seems especially present in solid hard candies such as lollipops and the so-called jawbreakers. These types of candy slowly melt in the mouth and consumption often takes more than 15 minutes. Some children even play a game to keep a jawbreaker in their mouth as long as possible. Consequently, the intra-oral pH may decrease for a long time to values between 4 and 4.5, a considerable risk for the development of dental erosion.

Finally, exposure to low pH values may cause local irritation of the oral mucosa. This risk seems most prominent for candy sprays, which have very low pH values (1.9 to 2.3) and are applied directly on the oral mucosa.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325
Number of pages1
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Comment to: H. Nadimi, H. Wesamaa, S.-J. Janket, P. Bollu, J.H. Meurman (2011) Are sugar-free confections really beneficial for dental health? British Dental Journal. Volume 211, p. E15


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