San Diego, CA – When it comes to your child’s smile, are you doing all you can to keep cavities at bay? Early childhood caries is now the number one chronic childhood disease, surpassing asthma. That means chances are good that at some point, your pediatric dentist might find signs of decay in your child’s teeth.
Could what your child is drinking be a cause for concern? Dr. Santiago Surillo, a San Diego kid’s dentist, says chances are good.
“We live in an on-the-go world and busy world,” says Dr. Surillo. “Sometimes it is faster and easier to grab a bottled soda or juice, or something similar. But these types of drinks should be kept to a minimum and never given to children regularly.”
Let’s take a look at some of the drinks that are the biggest culprits of tooth decay.
We all know soda is high in sugar, but even diet drinks can be harmful to our smiles. That’s because soda also contains acid that can weaken the tooth enamel. It only takes 20 minutes for tooth enamel to begin to dissolve. Studies have also shown that soda drinkers are less likely to get their recommended levels of vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and other important nutrients.
You may think juice is a healthier option than soda. It’s made from fruit after all, right? Most dentists will tell you otherwise, though. Fruit juice is high in sugar, too, and once in the mouth, that sugar gets consumed by bacteria and converted into acid. This acid then wears away at the enamel. While juice may be more nutritious than a soda, juice can actually be more acidic.
Sports and Energy Drinks
We’re seeing an increase in the number of adolescents and teenagers consuming sports drinks and energy drinks. It is estimated that as many as 62 percent of teens consume at least one sports drink per day. These drinks are sold with a variety of names, and many that lead consumers to believe that they are healthy. But Dr. Surillo says not to be fooled.
“Your teen might think that energy drink will help him stay awake to cram for a test, or the sports drink will improve her performance in a big game,” says Dr. Surillo. “But what they’re actually doing is eating away the enamel of the teeth, making your teen’s teeth more sensitive and prone to decay.”
One study that looked at 22 different types of these beverages found enamel loss evident after just five days of being exposed to the drinks.
Encourage your children to choose healthier options, such as water, and limit sugary or acidic beverages as much as possible. Milk and other dairy products can help to rebuild the enamel of the teeth. Your child can also add sugar-free gum with Xylitol, a natural sweetener. Xylitol helps to strengthen the enamel, even helping to repair it after it has been damaged.
Encourage healthy oral hygiene habits, such as brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day, and ensure your children see a dentist regularly. If you have any questions about how your child’s diet may be affecting his teeth, be sure to speak with your dentist.