About 25% of people drink multiple sugar-sweetened beverages on a daily basis, and a substantial percentage drink a single beverage about once a day. The excess sugar is a major contributor to obesity and other health problems, but some drinks are also high in acidity, and combined with this sugar make these drinks particularly bad for teeth. These choices become the choices of our children and lead to problems later in life, but also cavities very quickly without proper dental care.
Dental enamel is the coating that protects the inner structures (dentin) of the tooth. It can become worn and eroded due to our naturally occurring acids. Energy drinks, sodas, and some fruit juices are high in acids, and the sugars they contain feed oral bacteria, which then produce even more acids. Some of the biggest offenders include regular and diet soft drinks, energy drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, and juices. Drinkers of soda and energy drinks are at higher risk of enamel erosion, sensitivity, tooth decay, decalcification (white spots/brown spots), and infection.
The body remineralizes the enamel daily thanks to the calcium and other minerals in the saliva, but high levels of acidity can prevent the saliva from doing its job.
How much sugar is in the drinks your kids are consuming?
- Water – 0 grams of sugar
- Sports Drink – 21 grams of sugar
- Energy drink 27 grams of sugar
- Soda – 49 grams of sugar
Dr. Frank Sierra, recommends healthier beverage choices instead. These can include:
- Tap water, which usually contains enamel-strengthening fluoride
- Bottled water
- Milk, which has calcium and vitamin D to help your body better absorb the calcium
The choices that are made early in life become habits that we often maintain as adults. A love of drinking water, proper brushing/flossing, and avoidance of excess sugar would have huge health benefits. Set a great example for your children as well and have fun with proper diet and exercise.