Soft drinks are fizzy, delicious, refreshing, and sweet. Kids love them and could consume them all day every day. Plus, it’s super easy to throw a soft drink in your child’s lunch box along with their sandwich and chips. But while those cans of carbonated deliciousness may seem innocent enough, they are actually putting your child’s oral health in danger. Your family dentist in Valparaiso is here to explain why you should keep your kid away from soft drinks.
Sugar — Oral Health’s Worst Enemy
There are lots of habits that have the power to destroy a healthy smile, but consuming too much sugar is near the top of the list. The sweet stuff interacts with the bacteria in the mouth, leading to plaque, tartar, and tooth decay.
Just how much sugar is in popular drinks that your child might be consuming? Here are just a few examples of beverages that contain outrageous amounts of sugar:
- Mountain Dew: 46 grams of sugar per 12 ounces
- Pepper: 41 grams of sugar per 12 ounces
- Pepsi Cola: 41 grams of sugar per 12 ounces
- Sprite: 38 grams of sugar per 12 ounces
- Lipton Iced Tea: 53 grams of sugar per 20 ounces
To put these numbers in perspective, consider that the American Heart Association recommends that children consume no more than 12 to 25 grams of added sugar per day.
Acid Is Harmful Too
Some soft drinks contain no sugar at all, but they’re still carbonated. The carbonation process naturally adds acid to the beverages. This acid can soften and erode tooth enamel, leading to decay just as effectively as if your child were drinking oodles and oodles of sugar.
Flat, plain water, and regular milk are the best drinks for your kid’s oral health, but let’s face it — kids love sweet drinks, and they might rebel if you try to cut them off entirely from their favorite drinks. That is unless you offer some tasty alternatives. Here are a few ideas that might satisfy your little one’s sweet tooth without endangering their oral health:
- Flat, flavored water. Some flat flavored water, like Hint Kids, are delicious and don’t even contain artificial sweeteners.
- Wat-Aah. This brand creates sugar-free flavored waters that contain minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium to promote good overall health.
- These waters, infused with real mint, don’t contain any sugar but have refreshing natural flavors that are bound to please.
- Iced fruit teas. Some fruit teas are naturally very sweet without any of the sugar that makes soda so harmful.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that fruit juices, like orange juice and apple juice, are safe alternatives to soda. Although they have more nutritional value than most soft drinks, they are still very high in sugar.
Keeping your child away from soda and other harmful soft drinks is a challenge, but the rewards will be worth all the effort!
Four talented dentists work together at Smiles of Valparaiso & Associates to help members of our community enjoy healthy smiles. If you have questions about how to make sure your child maintains sound teeth and gums, please contact our Valparaiso office at 219-531-8914.