Due to the escalating consumption by children and adolescents over the last two decades, there is increasing community interest in the dental effects of soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and flavored waters. Parents need to understand the potential dental implications associated with the consumption of sugary, acidic beverages in order to help children minimize damage to their teeth.
These beverages are full of sugar and acids. Refined sugars play a pivotal role in the tooth decay process. Also, the most aggressive acid linked to tooth erosion, or loss of enamel, is citric acid, which is found commonly in these drinks. The continuous and more frequent use of soft drinks is of critical concern to the dental community, and must be understood by parents.
Although parents may find it a challenge to control what their children drink or eat elsewhere, they can provide access to appropriate food and drink choices at home. We understand kids are going to want these drinks. Therefore a realistic approach would be to get them to consume the beverages in a healthier way. Parents should focus on the following:
1) Make an effort to reduce the consumption of these beverages, especially at home.
2) Eliminate between meal consumption. It is safer to consume these drinks with food.
3) Do not allow bedtime consumption.
4) Limit volume and exposure time by buying smaller cans.
5) Rinse with water whenever possible following consumption.
6) Brush twice a day.
Finally, treat these soft drinks and other related sugary drinks as an occasional treat, like snacks or candy. The bottom line for all parents is that altering or reducing the intake of these beverages can decrease the degree of dental destruction in their children.
-Dr. Jay Oltjen, D.D.S, M.S.