When we think of healthy alternatives to soda and other sugary drinks, it’s often common to look to fruit juice as a solid choice. Generally high in essential vitamins, fruit juice can be a much better choice than other beverages. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the worst offenders. The sugars and citric acid found in most fruit juices cause double trouble for teeth, and can lead to tooth decay at an early age.
A Lot More Sugar than You Think
Apple juice can contain as much as 10 teaspoons of sugar per serving. That’s exactly the same amount as found in the leading cola. Grape juice contains even more, with nearly 15 teaspoons. Further, the citric acid in fruit juice can be tough on enamel, eating away at the first line of defense for healthy teeth.
Moderation And Water
Consuming fruit juice isn’t in and of itself bad. Instead, the real problem is that we often simply consume too much juice or that we don’t rinse or brush afterwards. Children are especially at risk when juice is given too frequently. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children have no more than 6 to 8 ounces of citrus fruit juice per day. Also, it’s important to limit your children’s consumption of juice to once a day, preferably with a meal, instead of spread out through the day, such as in a sippy cup. For the juice-lover in the family, two servings of watered down juice is a great way to satisfy a craving!
Think Baby Teeth are Temporary and Not Important?
Think again. Baby teeth are necessary for chewing, speaking, and smiling. They also serve as placeholders for the adult teeth. Referred to as baby bottle tooth decay, teeth are infected or lost too early due to cavities. If left untreated, pain and infection can result. Severely decayed teeth may need to be removed.
Your child may develop poor eating habits, speech problems, crooked teeth, and damaged adult teeth. In addition, the chances that adult teeth will end up being crooked are greatly increased.
Protecting Baby’s Developing Bite
The good news is that a few simple steps can help stave off baby bottle tooth decay. They include implementing good oral hygiene at an early age. Here’s how:
Wipe the baby’s gums with a clean gauze pad or washcloth after each feeding.
Begin brushing your child’s teeth, without toothpaste, when his or her first tooth comes in. If you choose to use toothpaste, use a fluoride-free one.
Clean and massage gums in areas without teeth.
Floss once all the baby teeth have come in.
Make sure your child is getting enough fluoride, which helps lessen cavities. If your local water supply does not contain fluoride, ask your dentist or doctor if you need to use a supplement.
Schedule regular dental visits by your child’s first birthday. Dentists also offer special sealant coatings, which can help prevent tooth decay in children.
Sources: KidsHeathyTeeth.com, WebMD