North River Dental Care

Sugar Alternatives for Healthier Teeth

Closeup of a small sifter with a white powdery sugar substitute for baking

The holidays are filled with family, friends, joy, and food. Chances are that many of your favorite foods of the holiday season have been filled with sugar. For our team at North River Dental Care, these sugar-laden foods can be worrisome, as sugar is the major contributor to tooth decay. We recommend eating sugar only in moderation, but that ideal seems much harder to adhere to during the holiday season. As this year turns into the next, consider keeping the sweetness you crave in your favorite treats by incorporating the following sugar alternatives:

1. Stevia

This all-natural sweetener is made from the green leaf part of the Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni shrub, which is native to South America. Stevia sweeteners have zero calories and are 200-400 times sweeter than sugar, so you need much less for it to achieve the same sweetness. It is sold under the brand names Truvia, PureVia, and Enliten.

Pecan pie is a staple of the holiday season; check out this recipe made using Stevia!

2. Splenda®

A no-calorie artificial sweetener, sucralose is 600 times sweeter than table sugar and does not cause tooth decay.

There are tons of dessert recipes on the Splenda website! Check it out for an alternative way to make your favorite treat.

3. Xylitol

A naturally-occurring substance found in plants and many fruits and vegetables, xylitol is a sugar alcohol (that doesn't contain any alcohol - it is called this due to its molecular structure) that is low on the glycemic index, can be used in baking, is non-GMO, and contains 40% fewer calories per serving than table sugar with about the same sweetness. Moreover, unlike many other sugar substitutes, xylitol helps to prevent cavities and reduce the likelihood of gum disease. It is found in many sugar-free chewing gums.

These sugar-free dark chocolate chip cookies made with xylitol may fool even the pickiest eaters in your family!

4. Erythritol

Erythritol is a calorie-free sugar alcohol that is 70-80% as sweet as table sugar and is mainly made from cornstarch.

Seven layer sweet and crunchy bars, commonly called Hello Dollies, are always a hit! This recipe calls for erythritol.

5. Pure Maple Syrup

If you're looking for a unique sweetness flavor, pure maple syrup is a vegan-friendly alternative to honey since it is comes from heating the sap of a maple tree. It contains thiamin and pantothenic acid, both essential vitamins, as well as manganese, zinc, iron, potassium, copper, and calcium. However, although the carbohydrate composition of maple syrup is different than that of refined sugar, keep in mind that it is still food for oral bacteria and will raise your blood sugar, unlike the other alternatives on this list.

Try substituting 1 cup of granulated maple syrup for 1 cup of sugar when baking. Check out this recipe for maple sugar ragamuffins.

Consume in Moderation

Though sugar-free sweeteners don't cause decay, some people may experience mild side effects, such as headaches, muscle pain, bloating, gas, and dizziness, when frequently consumed. So whether you indulge your sweet tooth with sugar or these sugar alternatives, it’s important to remember that moderation is always key!

Schedule a Checkup!

Don’t forget to call our office to make an appointment for your biannual checkup and cleaning. Even if you don’t have dental insurance, come in and see us at North River Dental Care twice every year. We offer many flexible payment options, and even offer a "North River Advantage" program. We look forward to seeing you soon!


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