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Is My Child's Drink Good For His/Her Teeth?

Updated: Jul 21, 2022

What’s in your child’s drink?

Many parents are diligent about not allowing their children to consume too many sticky or chewy candies. But what about beverages? Research demonstrates that consuming a large quantity of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is associated with not only an increased risk of dental cavities, but obesity as well. SSBs include soda, juice, sports drinks, tea/coffee drinks, energy drinks, sweetened milk, and milk alternatives. In accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the AAPD agrees that 100% juice and juice drinks “have no essential role in a healthy diet for children.” If you’re going to provide juice for your kids, these are the AAP’s recommendations:

Infants < 1yr of age: No juice

Children 1-3yr of age: < 4oz per day

Children 4-6yr of age: < 6oz per day

Children 7-18yr of age: < 8oz per day

Do not give juice to toddlers in easily consumable drinkware or at bedtime. Drink water throughout the day and save flavored beverages (low-fat milk preferable to juice) for mealtime only.

Common misconceptions:

  • “I only give my kids organic juice.” – “Organic” does not mean sugar-free. Check the labels.

  • “I only give my kids 100% juice.” - While 100% juice is better than those with added sugars, 100% juices still have sugar so keep consumption to a minimum.

  • “My kids play a lot of sports on the weekends and need Gatorade to stay hydrated.” – Instead, carry a large thermos of water as kids rehydrate adequately with water alone. Gatorade Zero with no sugar is a better choice than regular Gatorade if you’re going to give it to your kids but keep consumption to a minimum.

  • “We drink diet soda with no sugar.” – While the diet sodas may not have any sugar, they do contain sugar substitutes (i.e., aspartame) which can be harmful to the body. Soda in general, whether diet or regular, is acidic and therefore can be detrimental to enamel when consumed frequently.

  • “My son only drinks almond milk instead of cow’s milk.” – If the milk alternative has added sugar, it is essentially almond juice. Stick with sugar-free almond milk if you choose these milk alternatives.

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