Sunday, January 15, 2006

Stevia and Tooth Decay

Even a five-year-old child knows that sugar can cause tooth decay. There are certain bacteria in your mouth, particularly Streptococcimutans, that ferment various sugars and produce acids. These acids, in turn, eat through the enamel of the tooth, causing a decayed spot or cavity. For a long time, scientists have searched to find alternative sweeteners that are not fermentable by bacteria and, hence, do not cause cavities. Artificial sweeteners have been helpful in this regard.

Does stevia lead to tooth cavities? According to one study done on laboratory rats, the answer is no. In this study, stevioside and rebaudioside A -- the two primary sweet constituents of the stevia plant -- were tested on a group of sixty rat pups (Das, 1992). The rats were divided into four groups. Group 1 was fed 30 percent of its diet in sucrose (table sugar). Group 2 was given 0.5 percent of its diet in stevioside. Group 3 received 0.5 percent of its diet in rebaudioside A. Group 4, the control group, was given no sugar or sweetener of any kind. There was no difference in the food or water intake among the groups.

After five weeks, the rats were evaluated. There was a significant difference in the condition of their teeth. The sugar-fed rats in Group 1 had significantly more cavities than the rats in the other groups. The rats in Groups 2, 3, and 4 had about the same number of cavities. The researchers stated, "It was concluded that neither stevioside nor rebaudioside A is cariogenic [cavity causing] under the conditions of this study." It appears that the chemicals within the stevia plant that impart its sweetness are not fermentable, and thus do not cause tooth cavities.

extracted from here

15 comments:

Lisette said...

Hi, I'm a dental professional and I have just been hearing more about stevia. i am really interested in this as a sugar replacement. What I'm wondering is whether you are aware of any research showing the benefits of stevia for teeth - ie. other than just not causing tooth decay which many other sweeteners don't do. Particularly I am thinking about xylitol which has been shown to improve dental health, and lower bacteria count in the mouth, not just prevent decay. If stevia can do the same thing without the possible gastrointestinal side-effects, I am most interested.

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Anthony said...

This is great news for me! My daughters love sweets, thus making them prone to cavities. In fact, according to their Hixson dentist, their teeth already have a lot of cavities. Hence, I have been looking for a sugar replacement that will not do any harm to their teeth and Stevia might be the replacement I have been looking for. I'm definitely going to ask their dentist in Hixson on their next visit about using Stevia as a sugar replacement.
Thanks for posting such an insightful post!

Tony Destroni said...

In avoiding this kind of problems just take a brush after eating and visit your dentistas regularly . as we know kids love sweet chocolates candies etc. This may be cause of tooth decay . like i said just follow what the dentist said to avoid this

kenneth said...

This is also good news for my little sister!

allaboutmovies said...

Wow Stevia seems like a great product for people like me who are into sweets but have very sensitive teeth. Perhaps using products that utilize stevia would help in taking care of teeth without having to sacrifice my cravings for sweet items.

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Merr Hap said...

I love sweets, I guess my children inherited my appetite for sweets. As parents we need to watch the diet of our children and that includes the concern for their dental health. A sugar replacement is a great idea!

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Uzume said...

I use stevia fairly regularly as I am cutting down on sugar generally. I have heard about stevia reducing cavities and this has been an additional attraction of the product for me.

One comment from Tony Destroni said brushing one's teeth after eating eliminates the issues of eating sugar. However, i have read reports which say brushing too soon after eating (especially acidic foods but also in general) can have a negative effect on tooth enamel. The acid in foods softens the enamel and it can be worn away if brushing occurs within an hour of eating. There is a lot of information about this online.

ikihi said...

"stevia in the raw" is the best thing ever invented. one pack is more than enough for an 8 oz glass of coffee or lemonade.

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Mother of children with sensitive teeth said...

I have just been reading that stevia breaks down enamel. Has anyone else found documentation on that?