Are Sugary Drinks Destroying my Child’s Smile?

By Aaron Strickland, D.D.S. on April 26, 2017

Are Sugary Drinks Destroying my Child’s Smile?

When it comes to keeping our family’s teeth healthy, it’s important for us to ensure proper brushing and flossing, but it’s just as important to be mindful of what our kids eat and drink.


If we know anything about kids, it’s that they love sweet things! Sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit juices are often a hit with the kids, but they can cause a host of dental problems.


What do sugary drinks do to teeth?


Sugar decreases the teeth’s resistance to plaque, thereby eroding teeth and increasing the risk of cavities. When we consume sugar, the sugar latches onto the teeth. Healthy bacteria found inside the mouth eats away at the sugar left behind from the drinks. However, as the bacteria feeds on the sugar, it begins to produce an acid. Eventually, the acid begins to erode some of the enamel on the teeth. This makes the teeth thinner and weaker. As the enamel weakens, the teeth become more susceptible to decay and cavities.


What can I do to prevent erosion of teeth caused by sugary drinks?


Even fruit juices are naturally high in sugar. If you have a child who loves fruit juice, make sure you are teaching them healthy habits to prevent tooth decay. Follow these tips to help prevent enamel erosion due to sugary drinks.


    • Encourage your child to rinse their mouth or drink water after drinking juice. This will decrease the likelihood of cavities and gum disease by reducing the amount of sugar left on the teeth.
    • Avoid allowing fruit juices or other sugary food and drinks before bedtime. During sleep, saliva production naturally decreases, making it harder to wash away sugar that has become attached to the surface of the teeth.
    • Encourage your child to use a straw. Drinking through a straw reduces the amount of sugar that comes into contact with the teeth.
    • Purchase juice with no added sugar. While no sugar is best, some type of juice are better than others. Opt for brands that are whole juices, and do not have additives. This will help to limit the amount of sugar and acids that can cause erosion of the enamel. 
    • Offer your child water. The best thing you can do to prevent tooth decay due to sugary drinks is to give your child water to drink. Not only is water the best thing for teeth, but it’s what’s best for overall health and wellness as well. If you have a child that must drink juice or other sugary drinks, consider watering it down to reduce the amount of sugar in it.
    • Teach healthy brushing habits. Children learn by example. It’s important to teach them how to brush properly and for them to see you brushing your teeth often. If your children have a hard time brushing their teeth by themselves, consider a battery-powered toothbrush.
    • Visit the dentist regularly. Dentists recommend dental cleanings twice per year. During your cleaning, the dental hygienist can clean in the hard-to-reach spaces of your child’s teeth, and check for any signs of erosion or tooth decay. This can help prevent more serious issues down the road.

At White River Dental, we are committed to helping our patients achieve a healthy smile for life, whether at four years old, or 84 years old. Contact our Columbus dental office today to schedule an exam for yourself or your child. 

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