Providing your child with a seemingly healthy fruit juice or smoothie leads to many dental issues later in life from the acidity and sugar content these drinks actually contain. Bacteria in the mouth love sugar and produce dangerous plaque acids that attack the enamel. Parents who believe you are helping your child be healthier may be surprised to know that even though the fruit juice may not contain added sweeteners, the crushed fruits release sugar, making them just as damaging to your child’s teeth and possibly counteracting the positive health benefits the drinks and snacks may have.
Acids and sugar cannot be fully avoided, but limiting your child’s frequency of exposure will help. Exposing your child more frequently to sugary drinks is much worse than drinking a large quantity of acidic drinks at intermittent times. Eating the fruit is much healthier than the drinks because your child is exposed only for a few minutes, while a drink may be sipped throughout a much longer period. Washing it down with water afterward will help rinse your child’s mouth out and drinking large quantities of water while consuming these drinks and snacks in moderation will affect your child only a little, if at all.
Some snacks contain 11-20 grams of sugar, having no nutritional value considering the portion size. This may be even more than what some adults would want to consume in one day, according to Dentistry Today.
25% of children in the U.S. drink fruit juice regularly, 56% drink at least one sugary drink every day, while 91% drink soda regularly. Not only do these drinks pose a threat to your child’s teeth, but recent studies also show that other health factors have proven to increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and gout. Water is much more beneficial because it has no sugar and lowers the risk of obesity—on the rise in U.S. children.
Now, for the good news!
Some foods may actually boost your child’s oral health. Salmon, high in omega 3 oils, prevents inflammation. Basil is a natural antibiotic and may lower the amount of bacteria in the mouth. Quinoa keeps teeth and bones strong because it is rich in protein and calcium. Onions combat Streptococcus bacteria through their sulfur compound, while fruits high in vitamin C are considered natural teeth whiteners.
Even more good news: research in Ireland has resulted in indicating that enzyme-modified coconut oil is a major inhibitor to the growth of many Streptococcus bacteria strains, successfully fending off tooth decay! It can be considered an antibiotic and incorporated into dental care products to help oral health. More studies need to be done, but if this turns out to be true, coconut oil will have a huge positive impact on general dentistry.
When choosing a healthy drink for your child, think of the sugar content, fruit content and nutritional value. Remember that your choices can affect your child’s health. If you do decide to go for that sugary drink, make sure your child still has room for water after. Check out our previous post on tips to maintain healthy teeth for more information.