While most parents know that soda is bad and water is good for kids, there are lots of misconceptions surrounding other types of childhood beverages. To make matters more confusing, some drinks that might seem better for children’s overall health care can actually lead to tooth problems that require pediatric dental work.
A lifetime of good oral health starts with healthy childhood nutrition. After all, dental cavities are twenty times more common than diabetes and five times more common than childhood asthma. If you’re a parent struggling to know what’s best to put in your little one’s sippy cup, use the following guide:
The Best Drinks For Children’s Teeth
- WaterIt comes without surprise that water is generally the best drink for everyone’s oral health and general health. Water helps the body stay hydrated, and rinses harmful bacteria away from teeth. Once children are out of infancy, offer thirsty kids water whenever possible.
- MilkThough milk sometimes gets a bad reputation for being rich in fat and sugars, when it comes to your teeth, dentists believe milk has many healthy benefits. The calcium in milk helps bones and teeth remain strong, and a protein in milk called casein helps fight tooth decay by strengthening enamel. Offer children under two whole milk, and choose low-fat milk options for older kids.
- Unsweetened TeaUnsweetened green and black tea are loaded with bacteria-fighting polyphenols. While black tea is more acidic and can stain teeth, green tea is renowned for its multitude of health benefits. Be sure to only offer kids decaffeinated teas to lower gum inflammation and reduce their risk of tooth decay.
Drinks to Avoid
- CoffeeKids shouldn’t drink caffeinated coffees, but even decaf can be harmful. Coffee is high in acids that stain teeth and weaken enamel. Coffee sweeteners and creams are also terrible for oral hygiene since they encourage bacteria growth and dry out the mouth, decreasing plaque-fighting saliva. Avoid the need for pediatric dental work by saving coffee-drinking for the grown-ups.
- Sugary Juice and SodasSugar in all forms feeds the bacteria that cause tooth decay and cavities. Sodas are also high in acids that break down tooth enamel. Though juices are made from fruit, beware of giving children too much, since juice often contains nearly as much sugar as soda. Don’t rely on diet sodas, either, since their high acid content can ruin children’s teeth. Try cutting juice with water, and save soda for special occasions.
- Sports DrinksThough sports drinks are marketed as health-boosting thirst quenchers, they also contain high levels of sugar that harm teeth. Unless your children are Olympic athletes or marathon runners, don’t give them sports drinks as a way to boost their performance and health. Water and a healthy diet will sufficiently meet their athletic needs.
While any drink can be okay in moderation, some beverages are more likely than others to harm kids’ teeth in ways that require extensive pediatric dental work. Use this guide to encourage healthy drink choices for a life-long healthy smile.