A beautiful, healthy smile can be achieved and maintained through positive lifestyle habits such as eating a proper diet, practicing good oral hygiene, and visiting your dentist regularly. Many of these beneficial habits are formed when we are children. Unfortunately, some children who regularly practice these healthy habits may still experience a high risk of dental disease due to their regular consumption of sugary soda-pop, sports drinks, and even fruit juices.
• An 8oz glass of orange juice has 24g of sugar – that’s equal to 6 sugar cubes!
• A 12 oz can of regular cola has 39g of sugar – nearly 10 sugar cubes!
• A 16 oz bottle of chocolate milk has 58g of sugar – nearly 15 sugar cubes!
• A 16 oz can of your typical energy drink has 62g of sugar – nearly 16 sugar cubes!
• A 20 oz bottle of lemonade has 67g of sugar – nearly 17 sugar cubes!
As you can easily see, sugar-laden sports drinks, soft drinks, and fruit juices can all cause tooth decay. These drinks used to be an occasional treat, but have become a daily habit for many kids and teens. Additionally, the serving sizes of these drinks have increased dramatically over the years. Larger sizes mean more calories and more sugar which can lead to more tooth decay. When consumed, the sugar in these drinks combines with the bacteria in your mouth to form acid. This acid then attacks the teeth and can weaken the tooth enamel. Once the enamel is damaged, the bacteria in your mouth can cause cavities. Additionally, diet or “sugar free” drinks contain their own acid which also attacks and subsequently weakens tooth enamel.
The frequency of consumption of these types of drinks may also be a contributing factor to tooth decay. Frequent sipping throughout the day prolongs the acid attacks on the tooth enamel. Each acid attack lasts for about 20 minutes and begins again with every sip.
To help lessen the negative effects of frequent consumption of soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit juices, attempt to drink them in moderation. Having smaller, single serving sizes available may be beneficial in reducing the amount of beverage consumed. Additionally, using a straw to keep the sugar away from your teeth may also be beneficial. Rinsing your mouth with water or brushing your teeth after drinking sugary or acidic drinks may also help.
Remember: Dr. Cobb always says that regular brushing and flossing, combined with healthy food choices and bi-annual checkups will ensure that your teeth are healthy and beautiful for a lifetime.