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Intake of Artificial Sweeteners by Children: Boon or Bane?

BACKGROUND: Sugar is the main culprit in many health dysfunctions. Excessive sugar intake can negatively affect oral health, precipitate diabetes, and lead to weight gain and obesity. Sucrose is the primary form of sugar, and is strongly correlated with dental caries. Artificial sweeteners are chemically synthesized sugar substitutes that are generally regarded as being low-calorie.

OBJECTIVE: This review examines the current evidence in the literature for the need for artificial sweeteners and outlines its implications for the health of children. We briefly outline its adverse effects, and concerns regarding their safety.

REVIEW RESULTS: Artificial sweeteners are a widely used food additive. Six main artificial sweeteners are approved by the food and drug administration (FDA). The conflicting results and divergent regulatory norms of each sweetener are a constant cause of concern and debate. However, most studies have spotlighted the beneficial effects of artificial sweeteners. Dental caries diminish with the increase in sweetener intake. An increase in appetite and eventually weight gain is observed in individuals consuming artificial sweeteners.

CONCLUSION: Artificial sweeteners are indeed a bane according to present studies, although more research on recently discovered non-nutritive artificial sweeteners is required. It also has a positive effect on overall health disorders. If one curbs the onset of dental caries, then the eventual rise is highly unlikely.

CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Artificial sweeteners' effect on lowering dental caries will help to reduce the caries index in general. Oral hygiene is maintained, and the growth of oral bacterium is depressed. Research on novel sweeteners will help to compare their efficacy in caries prevention compared to existing ones. It is necessary to educate people on artificial sweeteners and its implication as one can use them by being aware of their properties.

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