While we’re all stuck at home, our kids might be steadily going through the pantry with a little more regularity and parents might be understandably lax at this time just to keep the peace and entertain bored and stir-crazy kids.
There are some drinks that are the worst enemy of our teeth! Most juice boxes, energy/sports drinks, soda and lemonade are liquid sugar. They just have different names in the labels. Juice boxes contain sugar and acid. Anything syrup is sugar. Molasses is sugar. And pop is the most acidic and usually the most sugary too.
How sugar works in damaging teeth
When you or your child drink or eat anything sweet, the sugar in that sip or bite gets digested by the natural bacteria in your mouth and they secrete acid as a byproduct.
This acid attacks your enamel, softening it through demineralization and causing the visible cavities you might see if you don’t take care of your teeth better. The most common place for cavities to form is between the teeth as most people do not floss food particles from between their teeth. This creates a sponge for bacteria to collect on and set up shop making acid byproducts that eventually eat into the surface of the tooth.
These acid attacks last for about 20 minutes before salive restores a more optimal pH in the mouth. That 20 minutes starts again after every sip or every bite of sugary/acidic food. Unless you do something like swish water in your mouth, eat something else so that you have more saliva in your mouth to dilute the acid, or brush, these attacks can damage your tooth enamel.
Sugary drinks are enemy #1 for a reason
Aren’t sugary drinks better than eating sweets?
On the contrary, sugary drinks are worse. Aside from the common prolonged nature of consuming a drink over time with repeated sipping, the sugar content is often much higher than sweets foods and candies. Additionally, it is easier for liquids to get into hard to reach places (which incidentally are also harder to brush places).
Look at these shocking food comparisons:
- 1 can of pop/soda = 5.5 cupcakes (with icing… and sprinkles)
- 1 Sports Drink = 40 mini marshmallows
- 1 Lemonade = 9.5 candy rolls
- 1 Juice Box = 40 gummy bears
- 1 Energy Drink = 11 chewy candies
- 1 Unicorn Coffee = 5 frosted, sprinkly donuts
- 1 Hot chocolate = 8 chocolate candies
SHOCKING when put in those terms, isn’t it!
Reduce your child’s tooth decay risk with these tips
The best tip is to steer clear of sugary drinks as much as possible. Give your child water and white milk. But if your child needs to have that milk chocolate, sports drink or juice box:
- Teach them to drink, not sip. Don’t prolong that drink into 30 minutes or more!
- Swish with water after finishing the drink.
- Try to limit these high risk drinks to during meals only. This ensures they’re done drinking when they’re done eating, and the saliva flow during meals also helps in diluting acid.
- Floss everyday and brush with a fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day.
- NEVER drink something sweet before bed. The acid caused by the sugar just sits in the mouth all night long doing damage.
- Visit the dentist for regular checkups – about every 6 months. Dental cleaning also helps get rid of the plaque buildup that assists in the buildup of bacteria colonies that eat sugar and secrete acid. You can also consider a dental sealant to protect your child’s teeth from tooth decay.
About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan
Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan has specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. We have the ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs as we have treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options. We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.