Nutrition is a fundamental part of your kid’s oral health. Sugars from food or drink turn into acid which attacks their enamel and weakens their teeth. Certain foods and beverages can be great for oral health, and others can lead to dental problems down the line. Maintaining a healthy diet is just as essential for their pearly whites as it is for their bodies! Here is a list of drinks to indulge on, and drinks to restrict or avoid all together.
Healthy Drinks for Teeth
These are the best drinks for your kids’ teeth. They have positive impacts on oral health, and even work to repel bacteria and enamel erosion. Not only will these beverages assist in caring for your child’s teeth, but their overall health, too!
It should come as no surprise that water is the absolute best drink for your kid’s oral health. With zero sugars or starches, the bacteria bugs have nothing to feed on! Water helps wash away any food debris or plaque collected throughout the day, so it’s like a bath for your child’s teeth.
Drinking water also supports saliva production, which helps with the remineralization process and keeps teeth nice and strong. As a bonus, a hydrated kid is a healthy kid! H20 is truly a hero!
Not only does milk help support strong bones, but strong teeth too! Milk contains calcium, vitamin D, and phosphates, which assist in the health of your kid’s teeth and gums. Teeth are actually made of mostly calcium, so ensuring they get enough of it will keep them nice and strong.
Milk also encourages remineralization, helps enamel repel decay, and decreases the acid levels in plaque. Although there are countless benefits, it’s important to mention that milk contains natural sugars, so it is necessary that your child does their regular brushing and flossing after drinking milk. It’s also best to refrain from giving a child milk in a bottle or cup overnight because the sugars will sit on their teeth all night long.
Unsweetened Green Tea
The polyphenols in green tea help shield teeth from bacteria bugs that could turn into cavities and bad breath, as well as reduce gum inflammation. If your kiddo wants to enjoy green tea as a daily beverage, go for it! Just make sure that it’s caffeine-free. It’s also best to avoid black tea, which has proven to be corrosive to tooth enamel.
Unhealthy Drinks for Teeth
While some drinks work to protect your child’s teeth, others attack them with their sugars and acids. Many weaken tooth enamel which can cause dental problems such as cavities. Here is a common list of drinks that are bad for teeth.
Sweetened Fruit Juice
Contrary to unsweetened 100% fruit juice which, in moderation, supports healthy gums, sweetened fruit juice combines acidity and sugar which can lead to tooth decay. Fruit already has an abundance of natural sugars, so adding even more makes the sugar content damaging. Most juices that are marketed towards kids contain additional sugar, so be extra cautious and make sure to read the nutritional facts.
It is commonly assumed that sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade are a great choice for active kiddos, but they are almost as bad for your teeth as soda! The benefit of electrolytes and sugar only occurs for individuals such as marathon runners or Olympic athletes. If your child is looking to refuel after a game, try a banana, Greek yogurt, or some almonds.
Energy drinks erode enamel even quicker than sports drinks due to their even higher content of sugars and acids. And while some energy drinks claim to be sugar-free, they still contain citric acid which deteriorates the enamel and leaves teeth subject to decay. Not to mention energy drinks have an incredibly large amount of caffeine so they probably aren’t the best for children in general.
Not only do sodas have a high sugar content like the other unhealthy beverages listed, but they also contain carbonation and additives such as phosphoric and citric acids and occasionally malic and tartaric acids. These acids are extremely aggressive on enamel, wearing it down while the sugar causes bacteria to produce acids that cause cavities. If your child does indulge in a soft drink, try using a straw for less direct contact with the teeth.
Still Have Questions About Your Child’s Oral Health?
At Jenkins Dentistry for Kids, our trained and compassionate experts are here to answer all your questions or concerns regarding your child’s oral health. You can speak with our staff or schedule an appointment at our Shawnee or Lenexa office. Contact us today, and let us protect your growing smiles.