No drink other than milk or water is totally safe. Fruit drinks contain naturally occurring fructose which can cause decay in just the same way as added sugar.
But sugar is not the only problem. We are also seeing more acid erosion of teeth, particularly in teenagers and young adults. Fizzy drinks – even diet drinks – contain carbonic acid, and orange, apple and grapefruit juice are also extremely acidic. This changes the acid/alkali balance in the mouth. The acid begins to dissolve the enamel of the tooth, the dentine is exposed and the teeth become sensitive.
The best way to avoid this decay is to keep a check on how often your child drinks and for how long.
Fizzy drinks are harmful to teeth, not only due to their sugar content but also because they are highly acidic. This includes flavoured water and fizzy water. We do not recommend you give your child fizzy drinks but if they do, it is better to have them with meals, when the mouth is producing plenty of alkaline saliva, which helps to protect the teeth from the acidity of the drinks.
Our advice is to restrict children to five ‘meal moments’ a day – three main meals and two snacks. At main meals, children can eat and drink what they like as long as they are brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. The rest of the time, stick to milk or water. When they have a fizzy drink or juice, give them a straw and make sure they drink it quickly. Avoid brushing teeth for 30 minutes after drinking juice or fizzy drink as this will increase the acid erosion on teeth.
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