Drinking sugar-free soft drinks does not mean home free when it comes to your children’s teeth.

For decades, diet sodas and soft drinks have been disguised as an acceptable beverage, when it comes to protecting your children’s teeth. Now several reputable sources, publications and leading makers of toothpaste, including Colgate, are reporting findings that sugar is not the only culprit when it comes to causing cavities. Much to the surprise of many parents, diet sodas, and other sugar-free drinks are also bad for the teeth. In addition to sugar causing tooth decay, erosion of the precious tooth enamel also occurs when teeth are exposed to acid. Tooth-damaging acids such as phosphoric acid, citric acid and tartaric acid are some of the ingredients found in diet sodas and sugar-free soft drinks — especially colas and lemon/lime drinks.

Recently two researchers from the University of Michigan, Matthew M. Rodgers, DDS and J. Anthony von Fraunhofer, PhD, FADM, FRSC, compared the eroding effects of regular sodas and diet sodas on teeth. After 14 days, they found very little difference, each having had practically the same amount of dissolved tooth enamel.

In a similar study, The Washington Post reported in November 2015, that scientists from the Melbourne University’s Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre tested a wide range of sugar-free soft drinks, sports drinks and sweets and found that many of them were just as harmful as those containing sugar, due to their chemical and acid composition. These researchers tested 15 soft drinks on healthy, extracted molars and found that both the sugared and sugar-free equally led to a good deal of significant dental enamel erosion.

Park View’s Point of View

The goal of our practice is to always report cavity-free visits and educate our parents and young patients on the necessary steps needed to create a lifetime of healthy smiles. This includes tips on nutrition and healthy alternatives for some of your children’s favorite drinks and snacks. We support these recent reports on avoiding sugar-free sodas and drinks due to the enamel-eroding acid ingredients.

Here are some healthy smile-saving tips when it comes to your child’s beverage choices:

1. GO H20!
Yes, it’s still the best option, not only for hydration, but simply the best for the teeth — especially in areas where fluoride is contained in the water, which helps rebuild the tooth’s enamel. Introducing your child to water in infancy will make it their natural beverage choice, as they grew older. We always advise that parents only use water in the baby’s bottle when putting them to sleep to avoid Nursing Bottle Syndrome or early childhood cavities.

2. Water with a twist
As parents, I’m sure that we’ve all had a resort or spa experience where large pitchers of water were served with either fresh fruit or herbs floating in them for that little hint of flavor. Why not always have a similar, interesting water pitcher in your own fridge? You can even make it a weekly “Water Pitcher Project”, creatively selecting ingredients such as mint, ginger, berries, watermelon or cucumbers.

3. Milk it
We are all aware of the healthful benefits of milk, but it does contain some natural sugars, which is why it is never recommended in the baby’s nighttime bottle. Whether you are choosing from the dairy section or a nut-based milk, like almond, make such that it does not contain added sugars or sugar-free flavoring. It is also important that your child rinses their mouth or brushes their teeth afterwards.

4. Give the mouth a rinse
The above after rinsing or brushing the teeth suggestion is especially important if they are ever in an occasional soda drinking (sugar or sugar-free). Saving the tooth’s enamel keeps them strong and less susceptible to getting a cavity.

Feel free to contact us when it comes to your child’s oral health. We look forward to seeing you in 2016!

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