Sugary Drinks & Tooth Decay

As sugary drinks have become more popular, more studies have been done to find out if the consumption of the drinks is connected to the rise in tooth decay. Whether it is an energy drink, sports drink, soda, or store bought juice-, all can be negatively influential in oral health.

The high acidity levels and sugar content in soft drinks and energy drinks are especially dangerous. Keep in mind that drinks that are sugar-free are not necessarily better. Yes, the sugar content is low, but the acidity levels do not change and the sugar substitutes are not very beneficial. As of late, many dental professionals have come to agree that these drinks are connected with the rise in tooth decay. For children, especially with the summer months in store, parents often give out drinks like Capri Sun, Gatorade, and various bottled juices. Some of these choices are better than others, but all of these choices are very high in sugar.

To ensure the proper development and protection for your children’s teeth, as well as the upkeep of your own, it is first recommended to reduce the consumption of these sorts of drinks. Also, knowing the way that these drinks should be consumed is also important. It is dangerous to drink any fizzy or sugary drink over a drawn out period of time- say if one were to sip a Pepsi over a few hours, because to do so means constant and prolonged acid and sugar exposure for the teeth. For example, it is better to drink a beverage of this kind with a meal.

While you eat, the chewing action will produce saliva, which then moves along the acid and sugar content of the drink. It also helps to swish with water after drinking any of these drinks, but to brush them immediately after does not. The reaction between the drink and the toothpaste on the teeth can actually cause erosion. It is best to swish with water and wait thirty minutes to brush.

So as summertime begins, think of alternative, fun, and yummy drinks for the little ones. A great idea is homemade lemonade versus making it out of the can. Also, make your smoothies at home unless you have a trusted place like Jamba Juice. Many store-bought smoothies have high sugar content and are also highly pasteurized, which causes many of the nutrients to be lost. When you make them at home, you can add a little plain yogurt or milk (whether cow’s milk, almond, or soy- as long as they are calcium & vitamin D fortified) for a calcium boost.

Another good idea for summertime is to put water in a pitcher, add cucumber, and refrigerate it- this way you can pull it out when the children are thirsty and want something besides ‘plain, old water’ to drink. It tastes a little differently, so it may take getting used to but is nice, cool, and refreshing. One last recommendation is tea- green, black, or an herbal blend, but leave out adding sugar. Go ahead and put a few tea bags in a big glass jar of water, put a lid on it, surround it with aluminum foil and put it outside in the sunshine. This is called sunshine tea; it is an easy way to make a big batch of delicious tea all at once. The foil will insulate the jar and draw the heat of the sun. Leave it out until the color has evenly spread (a few hours) and then refrigerate for delicious refreshment! With any of these ideas, it is most important to HAVE FUN! Feel free to experiment, but limit high acid fruits like lemon.

Happy smiling!