Sweetened beverages have become a treat that many Canadians enjoy, but these drinks are not healthy, especially for our dental health and smiles. Everyone has harmful bacteria in their mouths that eat the sugars we consume. The bacteria get energy from the sugar and in the process, produce acid which can damage teeth, causing cavities to form or erosion to occur.
Some of the most common beverages that Canadians drink have loads of sugar, even drinks that are marketed as “healthy” or “all natural”. If you think you’re safe with drinks like fruit juice, think again! A glass of juice can contain as much sugar as a glass of soda.
According to World Health Organization (WHO):
Eliminating sugary beverages from your diet would be best, but reducing the number of sugary drinks you consume and substituting healthier options with less sugar is a step in the right direction. Here are lists of drinks with lots of sugar and beverages that are better choices.
All of the better choices have little or no sugar which means they won’t give the bacteria in your mouth a chance to cause trouble and make acid that can damage your teeth. Water may contain fluoride, which protects teeth against cavities and the calcium in milk helps keep your teeth strong. If you or your children are allergic to cow’s milk, try unsweetened milk substitutes (such as almond, soy, rice) with added calcium.
If you find you can’t resist your morning cup of sweetened coffee, tea, or juice, there still are some things you can do to help protect your teeth. Here are some suggestions to consider.
- Drink, don’t sip. Sipping gives the bacteria more time to eat the sugar and to create cavities. Drink quickly to give your body time to wash away the bad stuff. Try to drink sweetened coffees, teas or sodas in one sitting instead of sipping on them over a longer amount of time. If you give your child juice, have them drink it with meals, and put only water in a sippy cup they can carry around during the day.
- Fluoride is your friend. If your community’s water is fluoridated, drink tap water to improve your dental health. Fluoride protects teeth and has reduced the number of cavities across the nation. If you would like to learn more about water fluoridation, click on this link.
- Brush and clean between your teeth. Brush your teeth twice a day and clean between your teeth at least once a day. Ask your dentist about the best way to do this. Help all kids under the age of eight to brush and floss well, and be sure to visit your dentist regularly. We have an article to help you introduce your child to proper teeth brushing and flossing.
Knowing what drinks contain sugar and that sugar-sweetened drinks can harm your dental health is a good start. Good habits begin at a young age, so help your kids make healthy decisions about what they choose to drink. Set a positive example, and you will all have healthier smiles and a healthier future.
Stop by at Lakefront Family Dental or call us to book your next dentist appointment.