Fruit juice might seem like a healthy choice for your child, but oftentimes, it's actually more of a problem than you might think. If you regularly buy fruit juice for your child to drink, here's how it could actually be harming their oral health and what you can do to combat these effects.
Sugar is one of the leading problems with fruit juice. Most juices contain added sugar to help the product to taste better. Unfortunately, since sugar is what bacteria thrive upon, this accelerates the process of plaque developing.
Unfortunately, switching to a juice with no added sugar isn't necessarily any better. What you need to consider is the overall quantity of sugar listed on the nutritional label, not its source. Since most fruit contains a high level of sugar to begin with, these drinks may not be significantly better for your child's oral health.
Another big problem is that the majority of fruit juices -- especially citrus ones, like orange juice -- contain high levels of acid.
Given enough time, acid will wear down the enamel on teeth and make them more susceptible to cavities. If your child sips fruit juice on a daily basis, they are essentially bathing their teeth in fruit juice acid every single day. Even without sugar in the juice, this will increase the risk that your child will develop enamel damage.
Ideally, you should skip the fruit juice entirely. Real fruit contains all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that fruit juice often lacks, making it a better choice for your child's overall health.
For drinks, you should stick to things that contain little to no fruit acid and ideally no sugar. Artificially-sweetened beverages save you the headache of worrying about sugar, but they may still contain acid. One easy way to check is to look at the ingredient label to see if citric acid is used as an added ingredient.
Milk is also always a good choice for children. The calcium and vitamin D in it will help to keep your child's teeth and jaw bones strong, but it's also been shown to help lower the development of plaque. The good news is, milk also contains an enzyme that helps to coat your child's dental enamel, making it more protective. This is especially good news if your child's dental enamel has already been damaged by fruit acids.
Taking care of your child's teeth means having discretion in what they drink and eat. Try eliminating fruit juice from your child's diet and see if their next examination and cleaning with a kids dentist is an improvement over their last one.