Sugary soda drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices, sweetened teas, and even flavored “vitamin” waters have earned themselves a bad name (and rightfully so!) for the sheer amount of sugar in each bottle or can. Giving up these sweetened drinks will benefit your dental health enormously.
Did you know? Consumption of sugary soda drinks and sweetened fruit juices by children aged 1 to 5 years is associated with a 90% increase in risk for tooth decay. That’s a big risk!
As adults – many of us parents – we know that the average bottle of regular (non-diet) soda pop is simply loaded with sugar. Drinking a 12oz can of soda is equivalent to gobbling 9 or 10 sugar cubes (39 grams in all). If you splurge and drink a 20oz plastic bottle of soda, you’re consuming over 65 grams of sugar. That’s equal to 16 cubes of sugar. Energy drinks are no better. Many of the popular energy drinks on the market are just as sugary as a can of soda. But what is often most astonishing to parents is the amount of refined sugar in the fruit juices and flavored waters they allow their children to have. There is a incorrect assumption that a juice or flavored vitamin water is somehow “healthy” because it’s an alternative to soda pop that their kids can enjoy. A 20oz bottle of flavored “vitamin” water has 33 grams of sugar – about 8 cubes of sugar. This is not something most parents would willingly feed their children as a “healthy” alternative to soda pop. And a 16oz bottle of lemon-flavored iced tea has 46 grams of sugar. That’s a whopping 14 sugar cubes in a bottle. Yikes!
So, what’s the big deal about sugary drinks? An excellent question! Simply put, sugar is one of the greatest enemies of healthy teeth and good overall dental health. When you eat sugary snacks or consume sugary drinks, the sugars feed the natural bacteria in your mouth which produce cavity-causing acid. The acid goes immediately to work on the thin enamel on your teeth, eroding this protective layer. Left untreated, this process causes tooth decay and cavities.
Armed with the knowledge of just how much sugar is in the soda pop, sweetened juices, and flavored waters some of us consume every day, it’s easy to understand the benefits of giving up these beverage choices for something less sugary and more beneficial. Water flavored with real fruit, skim milk, and home-brewed teas are all popular alternatives to sugary soda and juice.
If you have a craving for sugar, you can usually satisfy yourself by eating a piece of fruit – apples, oranges, pears, grapes, and bananas are all delicious and healthy choices (in moderation). Yes, the average piece of fruit does contain a lot of natural sugar, but it also contains a number of naturally-occurring vitamins and nutrients that you won’t get from a can of soda pop or a bottle of sugar-sweetened juice. Of course, you’ll want to brush your teeth after a fruit snack as well.
If you would like to make an appointment at Watts Family Dental for a dental cleaning or an oral screening, please call (913) 338-3384 or visit our Overland Park, KS office. You may also send an e-mail direct to firstname.lastname@example.org at any time. Because we’re committed to healthy smiles for the whole family, our patients come to us from Overland Park, Leawood, Lenexa, and Olathe, Kansas. We’d love to see your family too!