Sip All Day, Get Decay

When grocery shopping for juice drinks for your children, you will often see advertisements that say “100% juice,” “low in sugar,” “no sugar added,” or “added vegetables.” All these SOUND good, but if you look closely at the nutrition label, they all have sugars which ultimately can cause cavities in your child’s baby and adult teeth.

How much juice is okay for a child to drink per day?

Juice is okay for a child to drink – but in limited quantities. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting fruit juices to 4-6 ounces (which is one cup) per day for kids ages 1-6 years old and 8-12 ounces for older children. This helps children avoid many health and dental problems such as obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.

It’s important to remember that it’s better to drink the juice at a meal than to sip on the juice throughout the day. This avoids prolonged exposure of the teeth to the sugar which can lead to cavities.

WaterWhat should you give your child to drink when they are thirsty in between meals?

WATER! It’s free. It’s always available. It’s healthy for your body and teeth.

What if my child won’t drink water?

If your child is used to drinking juice, flavored milk, and even sodas, they can often fuss with parents when they try to introduce water into their diet. Don’t give up on the water. If your child is thirsty enough – he/she will drink the water. You can also help make the transition from juice to water by watering down the juice little by little every day.

A little hint for parents – save money!

By drinking more water, you will be saving money at the grocery store and at the dentist office.

If you buy juice/soda/flavored drinks and it’s readily available in your house, your child will drink it. Remove the temptation by not stocking the sugary drinks or keep them out of reach of thirsty kids so you can control when and how much they receive.

Is flavored water healthy for my child’s teeth?

Flavored waters such as vitamin-enhanced water and sports drinks all contain sugar which can cause tooth decay. Teenagers especially will often drink these sports drinks during their sports practices. Again, it is better to sip on water during practice and if they need a pick-me-up after practice, drink the sports drink at one sitting rather than sipping it over the course of a few hours.

Everything in moderation

Ultimately, our children are going to have juice, flavored drinks, and even the occasional soda at grandma’s house or their friend’s birthday party. As my mom always said, “Everything is okay in moderation.” Nothing takes the place of good tooth brushing, flossing, using fluoride mouth rinses, and visiting your dentist for your cleaning and check-ups.

Elizabeth Cook Miller, D.D.S., M.S. is a pediatric dentist at Atkins, Maestrello, Miller & Associates Pediatric Dentistry in Richmond, VA. She is a new mother, active runner and her favorite movie is "Finding Nemo".

Comments are closed