The American Dental Association estimates that children consume about 40% of their added sugar intake through beverages. Drink producers have helped convince consumers that drinks like fruit juices, flavored milk and sports drinks are actually good additions to a child’s diet. Patients often forget to tell the dentist about the beverages they drink because they assume that candy and sweetened foods are the only causes of dental decay. Many pediatric dentists claim that they discover more cavities due to excessive juice intake than from candy. Teenagers often have an increase in dental decay due to sports drinks and soda.
Dental caries (cavity formation) is an extremely common childhood disease caused by the fermentation of carbohydrates by bacteria living int he mouth. The process creates acid in the mouth and leads to enamel destruction. All sugars can feed this process. Sugars can be naturally present in beverages AND added during processing. Either way, sugar is detrimental to a child’s teeth. Parents mistakenly believe that “natural” or “organic” juices will not cause tooth decay. Unfortunately, the bacteria in the mouth come from sugar, no matter the origin.
Dental decay is a the result of many factors: frequency of exposure to sugary food or drink, oral hygiene, salivary flow, fluoride use and heredity. Your Bearable Dentistry dentist and hygienist can work with parents to lower your child’s rate of decay. Your child may have wonderful oral hygiene, use fluoride toothpaste and be otherwise the picture of health, but have extensive tooth decay. Beverages may be to blame.
Toddlers are often introduced to apple juice as an alternative to breast or cow’s milk. Young children develop a liking to the sweet taste. It’s then difficult to switch over to water instead. Even fruit juices diluted with water can be harmful to a child’s teeth. Consumption of soft drinks can also be detrimental to a healthy smile. Parents can set a good example by making soft drinks an occasional treat, but not part of a daily diet.
Next time you consider purchasing or serving a drink to your child, review the ingredients panel and check the sugar content. Water is a great choice!
Sugar content of popular drinks (20 ounce bottle unless otherwise noted):
Coca Cola = 65g; Mountain Dew = 77g; Rockstar Energy (16 oz) = 62g; Minute Maid Original OJ (16 oz) = 48g; Langers apple juice (16 oz) – 52g; Nesquik chocolate milk (16 oz) = 58g.