Sugary drinks are among the leading causes of cavities in children. Excessive intake of sugary drinks results in an increased risk for dental and gum disease, as well as other health risks like obesity and diabetes. Learn more about how sugary drinks are ruining children’s teeth and how to prevent your child’s teeth from being damaged by sugary drinks.
How Sugary Drinks Cause Cavities
It is not sugar alone that causes cavities. The problem is that bacteria in the mouth eat the sugar, turning it into energy, and the bacteria multiply. As the bacteria eat, they release acids and melt tooth enamel. A young person’s tooth enamel is not completely hard yet and needs to mature by getting minerals from the saliva. During this hardening time, the enamel is still not as hard and is easily damaged by acids. This is why children have cavities more easily. Sugary drinks are stickier to the tooth than water, staying longer on the enamel even after your child finishes his or her drink.
Soft drinks and Sports Drinks are Highly Acidic and Damaging
Both regular and diet soft drinks contain acidic ingredients. Sports and energy drinks are also very acidic. The acid in these drinks attacks enamel and dissolves it away. Below is a chart showing the PH of various beverages. The lower the number is, the more acidic the drink is. A beverage with a pH of less than 5.5 will damage the teeth. Note: Normal saliva is neither acidic nor alkaline at pH7.0. Compared with pH 7.0, pH 5.5 means it has more than 30 times the amount of acid. The drink at pH 6 has 10 times more acid than a pH 7 drink.
Other Health Problems Caused by Sugar
According to the State of Childhood Obesity, sugary drinks are the leading source of sugars in children’s diets across all age groups. Obesity is one of the leading causes of diabetes.
The CDC reports that the number of young people under age 20 with diabetes in the United States is likely to increase more rapidly in future decades based on the uptrend of current statistics. It is estimated that a total of 526,000 young people may have diabetes (including both type 1 and type 2 diabetes) by 2060, over double the current number today.
Alternative Drinks for Kids
It is vital to switch your child off of sugary drinks. Instead of sugary drinks you can add a bit of fresh fruit, herbs (like mint), or cucumbers to plain or carbonated water to make it tastier.
Plain carbonated water is marginally fine. But sugar-free carbonated waters often contain sodium, artificial acids, flavors, sweeteners, and other additives. Read the ingredient list and avoid any drinks with additives like sodium and sugar to avoid negative consequences for your child’s teeth.
Furthermore, teaching your children about the impact of sugars on the teeth will help them better understand the consequences of drinking sugary beverages.
Establish Good Oral Hygiene Habits at Home.
Good oral hygiene habits can help to protect children’s teeth from the damage caused by sugary drinks. Encourage your children to brush twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste and floss at least once daily.
Visit the Dentist Regularly for Check-Ups and Cleanings.
At Dental Arts & Wellness, we practice safe, low-toxicity dentistry. Holistic dentistry means we treat your mouth as a part of your body. There is a significant connection between your overall health and your mouth. A bright, radiant smile often signifies good health, so it’s only apparent that a mouth that is experiencing problems may signify other complications.
When your child comes for their regular visits, we can detect any signs of tooth decay. We can advise you on how to best protect your child’s teeth against cavities and other problems sooner by using various diagnostic tools. Regular visits help catch problems early. Being preventive and proactive in your child’s care can keep your child safe from painful infections or costly treatment.
Call us today to schedule your child’s next appointment.
Dr. Manami Yamaguchi
Dental Arts & Wellness