If you or your kid are planning to drink something other than water today remember that many drinks have a sneaky way of impacting young teeth. While they may seem like they don’t have much to them, beverages that are given to children and often viewed as healthy can actually damage teeth with sugars and high acidity.
When enjoyed in moderation, sugary or acidic drinks won’t do too much to your child’s smile, but trying to limit drinking them and enjoying a glass of water afterwards will have their baby teeth thanking you.
• Sports Drinks – Sports drinks are a popular choice among kids because designed to enhance athletic performance by restoring fluid lost when exercising or playing sports, similar to water, but with the addition of electrolytes. With those electrolytes come sugar to enhance the taste of sports drinks. Many sports drinks are made for serious athletes who exercise for more than an hour a day. The typical workout for amateur athletes is closer to 30 minutes, meaning that with day-to-day exercise, sports drinks aren’t always necessary and can be replaced with water. While an intense professional athlete’s body can handle that added sugar balanced by their extreme exercise, the average child’s activity can just do with water which won’t erode their teeth.
• Plant-Based Milk – There are many milk alternatives for those who are vegan, dairy-free, or who just want to see what plant-based milks are all about. When sampling them, be sure to opt for the unsweetened version. Plant-based milks consist of a mixture of ground nuts and water, creating a milk-like liquid that brands often add sugar to as a flavor-booster which erodes teeth. The amount of calcium and vitamin D is lower in popular plant-based options like soy milk as well, and mouth bacteria produce six times more acid when drinking soy milk rather than cow’s milk.
• Chocolate Milk – Although unflavored milk is praised for its high nutrient content, its flavored versions are well liked as a sweet treat for growing kids. Chocolate milk does not lack the nutrients of regular milk, but does add startingly high amount of sugar and flavoring. These sugars and starches can be fermented by cavity-causing bacteria which produces acid to damage venerable baby teeth.
• Fruit Juice – Some fruit juices can contain the same amount of sugar as artificially flavored sodas. Fruit juices made from acidic fruits can erode tooth enamel over time. Grapefruit and lemon juice have been shown to cause the most damage, while orange juice causes the least amount of damage.
These drinks aren’t all bad, but they should be enjoyed as a reward rather than a habitual beverage so they don’t damage growing teeth. Following up a sugary drink with water helps wash away the sugars and acids so they don’t sit on the surface of your teeth.
Regardless of what beverages you choose to drink, it’s critical that everyone maintain a healthy oral care routine by brushing their teeth for two minutes twice a day, flossing once a day, and making regular visits to the dentist.
Looking for more fun activities to keep your child on top of their oral health? Check out our Parents Resources page for activities sheets, books, and more!