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Most nutritionists agree that fruit juices are a much better alternative to sugary sodas. But what may be good for our bodies is not necessarily good for our teeth. Drinking fruit juices more than 3 times a day can actually be worse for your teeth than some soft drinks.

Sugar erodes teeth

Every mother knows that sugar = cavities. So naturally fruit juices, which are high in sugar, cause cavities. Especially since most fruit juices have a ton of added sugar, it isn’t as good for your teeth as you might think. Avoid giving fruit juices to your children at night and right before bed. Sleeping decreases saliva production, which leaves your teeth defenseless.

The acids wear away enamel

Fruit juices like lemonades, apple juices and orange juices are very high in acidic content that wears on our teeth. The acid reacts with the bacteria already in the mouth and the sugar from the juices to cause lesions or soft spots in the tooth’s protective enamel. Research has found that each time our child takes a sip of juice; an acid attack begins on their teeth for up to 20 minutes. And each sip that they take can reinforce that 20 minute attack all over again.

Tips to prevent tooth erosion

If your child likes having a juice box with their lunch or a glass of apple juice at dinner, here are some tips to reduce tooth decay.

Drink all of the Juice at one time

Make sure your children drink their juice quickly and all at once. The frequency of contact with the juice is what really matters. If your kid drinks juice all day, his teeth are in constant contact with the tooth harming sugars and acids. The best time to drink juice is with a meal since the sugars and acids present in our meals are already attacking the teeth. This way it limits the amount of time your child’s teeth are in contact with high acid and high sugar content.

Use a straw

Using a straw decreases a drink’s contact to your child’s teeth. By limiting the amount that touches your child’s teeth, we don’t immerse teeth in liquid and lower the chances of the acidic coating and destroying your teeth.

Substitute acidic beverages with water

Water is great for teeth and the best hydrator. If your child absolutely must have juice, you may want to consider watering it down so it isn’t quite as damaging to teeth as concentrated juice (plus it makes the juice last longer).

Don’t brush your teeth without rinsing

Juices, especially acidic juices like apple juice, cause the enamel on the teeth to wear out. But brushing them right after you bathe your teeth in acid can do more harm than just drinking the juice. The bristles of the toothbrush may damage and brush away the protective enamel and leave your child’s teeth exposed. Instead, rinse your mouth with water right after to wash away the residue of the juice or chew sugar-free gum preferably sweetened with Xylitol.

Switch to whole fruit juice

Fruit juice has many beneficial qualities for our children’s bodies. But store bought fruit juices like Minute Maid and Tropicana has a lot of additives. Limiting teeth exposure by switching to whole fruit and drinking more water can help make sure your children’s teeth stay strong and healthy.

We are passionate about helping your child to have great oral health at South Davis Pediatric Dentistry. If you have any specific questions about which beverage options are healthiest for your child’s teeth, feel free to send us a message or give us a call!

South Davis Pediatric Dentistry is a children's dental office in Bountiful Utah