Which Drinks Are WORST For Teeth?

If you got our last Tooth Times email newsletter or checked our Facebook page, you’ve probably seen our contest to guess which drinks are worse for your teeth.

In case you missed it, here’s the question:

Rank these in order of best to worst for your teeth: Gatorade, Skim Milk, Mountain Dew, Coca Cola, Orange Juice

We got over 30 guesses, and 2 correct responses which are (from best to worst):

  1. Skim Milk
  2. Orange Juice
  3. Mountain Dew
  4. Gatorade
  5. Coca Cola

How Did We Get The Results?

Thanks to 21st Century Dental, we can compare the pH levels (acidity) and sugar content of a HUGE list of liquids. For comparison purposes, battery acid has an acidity of 1.0 on the pH scale (VERY acidic), and water has a neutral pH of 7.0.

Drink pH (acidity) Sugar (in 12 oz.)
Skim Milk 6.8 3.5 teaspoons
Orange Juice 3.3 Depends on Type
Mountain Dew 3.22 11 teaspoons
Gatorade 2.95 5.5 teaspoons
Coca Cola 2.53 9.3 teaspoons

Why Is This Important?

Your child’s teeth have to last a lifetime.

Our mouths are designed to function best within a specific range of acidity levels (pH). More acidic drinks and foods (lower pH) can eat away at teeth enamel and give cavity-causing bacteria a place to grow.

These bacteria feed on sugar and multiply much more quickly when they have a lot to feed on. Sugary drinks provide lots of food for these bacteria, especially when your child sips them all day instead of drinking a single serving in one sitting.

What Parents Need to Know

We highly recommend that kids drink water instead of sugary drinks such as sodas, fruit juices, and sports drinks. Everything is fine in moderation, and we certainly don’t want to discourage the occasional treat!

But be careful not to let your child sip all day on a sugary drink. Instead, enjoy the drink with a meal in a shorter period of time.

Regular teeth brushing and flossing is your best defense against cavity-causing bacteria buildup.

Have More Questions?

Can we help you or your child establish healthier habits? Please feel free to contact us to schedule a consultation or regular cleaning.

Here are a few other resources you may find useful:

CC Photo Credit: Latente on Flickr
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