While most kids have the reputation of being notoriously picky eaters, the one type of food nearly every child can agree on liking is sugar, especially sweetened beverages. Whether soda, fruit juice, or sports drinks, parents often help indulge their child’s sweet tooth by letting them sip on sweetened beverages during meals and with snacks. Unfortunately for the tiny fans of these delicious drinks, parents may need to reconsider whether sweetened beverages should be part of their child’s diet at all. The high acidity levels found in sports drink, sodas, and fruit juice may actually pose a threat to the long-term health of kids teeth, reports the finding of a new study.

Troubling Findings

According to researchers, the results of this study discovered that permanent damage occurs to tooth enamel within the first 30 seconds after exposure to the high acidity in these types of beverages. These findings suggest that children may need to avoid drinking sweetened beverages entirely to protect the health of their teeth, say researchers from the University of Adelaide’s Craniofacial Biology Research Group.

When kids consume sugary drinks with high acidity, it’s not a simply matter of having them brush 30 minutes or an hour later to remove the sugar and acid from the surface of their teeth, as the damage has already been done, claims the study published in the Journal of Dentistry.

Typically, explained researchers, a balance exists in the mouth between protective mechanisms and acids. However, once that balance shifts towards a higher acidity level, regardless of the type of acid, damage to teeth occurs.

Researchers also point out that beverages high in acidity can also combine with other outside factors to cause serious, irreversible damage to the health of children’s teeth.

It’s not uncommon for adolescent girls and children to grind their teeth while sleeping, explain researchers, and they can have often suffer from undiagnosed reflux or regurgitation, which forces stomach acid up into the mouth. Coupled with drinks high in acidity, this creates a triple threat to the health of kids teeth, and the possibility of long-term damage occurring, report researchers.

Studies suggest that tooth erosion due to beverages high in acidity is on the rise in young adults and children. Tooth erosion ranks as a serious issue in developed countries like the U.S., and typically is often only detected clinically after extensive tooth wear has occurred. This type of erosion can result in a lifetime of compromised oral health, and could result in the need for extensive and complex dental restoration, concluded researchers.

Making a Difference

Fortunately, parents can take a proactive stance against sugary beverages in order to protect the long-term health of their child’s teeth and gums. If you have any questions about whether to let your kids drink sodas, fruit juice, or sports drinks, talk with Drs. Mo or G about the potential long-term ramifications, and what steps you can take to minimize your child’s risk.