The Most Damaging Drinks for Your Child’s Teeth

Summer is coming and with it, warmer weather that makes us all reach for something cool to drink. We have endless options to quench our thirst from fountain sodas and bottled energy drinks to more natural options like organic lemonade and 100 percent fruit juice. As a parent, you want to provide the best choices for your children. What drinks should you stock at home to get you through the long days of summer?

The #1 Drink to Avoid: Carbonated Sodas

Kids may beg for a cold can of soda, but these are the very worst option to sate your child’s thirst. Sodas of all varieties are loaded with sugar which behaves as a source of food for the bad bacteria in the child’s mouth. One soda won’t instantly cause cavities, but frequent soda consumption combined with the spotty tooth brushing habits common in young children can contribute to early tooth decay.

Another problem with carbonated sodas lies in the carbonation itself. As carbonation and the acid in soda come in contact with teeth they begin to erode the protective enamel outer layer of the teeth. As the enamel weakens, the tooth becomes more susceptible to serious decay.

In addition to the dental concerns posed by carbonated sodas, these drinks are detrimental to the child’s overall health. The American Heart Association recommends that children consume no more than 8 teaspoons of sugar in a day. A single can of Coca-Cola has 6.5 teaspoons of sugar. Excessive consumption of sugar is linked to childhood obesity and other health issues. Additionally, young children are extremely sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

Other Drinks to Avoid: Sugary Drinks

Most drinks marketed to children are laden with sugar. Drink mixes like Kool-Aid and lemonade or ready-made drinks like Hi-C or Hawaiian Punch are popular with children and parents alike. Children like the sweetness and flavors of the drink. Parents like the low cost and easy preparation, especially during summer when the kids are home more and always thirsty.

Food manufacturers are savvy creatures and constantly adapt to their markets. They understand parents’ sensitivities toward sugar and have formulated products that offer perceived benefits. Organic lemonade, Vitamin Water, and sports drinks are still loaded with sugars that wreak havoc on your child’s teeth and diet. They also offer low-calorie versions of favorites with less sugar or artificial sweeteners, but in reality, these options aren’t any better than the originals.

Drinks to Enjoy in Moderation: 100 Percent Fruit Juice

Sippy cups full of apple juice are a common sight anywhere you find a toddler. In moderation, fruit juice can be a healthy choice for children. Look for products that are 100 percent fruit juice that have no additional sugars. In small amounts, fruit juice can provide a dose of natural vitamins and ease thirst. Even the natural versions have a significant amount of sugar, so children shouldn’t be given free reign to determine their juice intake. You can also cut the juice with water which reduces the amount of sugar in each serving.

What Can Your Child Drink?

It seems like most drink options are full of sugar, caffeine, artificial colors, and carbonation. So what can your child drink? The best options for children and adults alike are white milk and water.

  • Milk is full of calcium which helps build healthy bones and teeth. Milk is is an excellent choice to accompany meals.
  • Water is the best choice for consumption throughout the day. Calorie free, water powers the body and keeps its systems running in top shape. Additionally, water dilutes the cavity causing bacteria that form and thrive in the mouth. Children may claim water is boring, especially if they feel their peers have more interesting drink options, so try adding fresh fruits or mint leaves to liven it up.

Sugary drinks are everywhere, but their negative impact on dental and overall health are indisputable despite healthy claims made by manufacturers. Monitoring your children’s sugar intake takes diligence, but nothing sends a stronger message than your own good example.